From The Fishbowl

Scribbles about stuff

Archive for the tag “short stories”

Jam

He understood now why people waited.

As Tony’s toes sat a little over the void, he felt his body rock back and forth with the wind. He wanted to reach out and grab hold of something, but there was nothing but air to support him. He looked straight ahead, not daring to glimpse the road below, and thought of why he was doing this. Taking such a permanent step. He thought…

“Excuse me,” said a voice from behind him. It almost made Tony lose his footing right away. “Oh, I’m sorry,” the voice said again. “I didn’t mean to make you jump.” A beat. “Probably a poor choice of words…” Tony looked over his shoulder and saw the embodiment of the voice. It was a man, young, dressed in a sharp suit.

“A…are you the police?” said Tony.

“Oh my, no. Just someone who wants to help you. You certainly appear to be in dire need of some assistance.”

“I don’t need anyone’s help,” said Tony. He was much more confident now that the initial shock of no longer being alone had faded. “Just let me die in peace.”

“Peace? You think jumping from a 30-storey building would be a peaceful death?” The man started walking towards the edge.

“Don’t come any further!”

“Why not? You’re not going to jump anyway.”

“I will if you come closer!”

“Nah,” said the man. He carried on walking, and sat down on the ledge next to Tony. “See? You’re still here, and I’m just sat here next to you. Lovely day, isn’t it? Would you like a jam sandwich?”

“I…what?” The man produced a small plastic bag from his pocket. Two triangular jam sandwiches were inside.

“I made them myself this morning. It’s so hard to find cafés that sell them. I’m not really keen on sandwich fillings that aren’t jam. I’m sure Pret or Subway would get a lot more business if they just made a few every day.”

“Who the hell are you?” said Tony.

“I’m Hank, and you didn’t answer my question.”

“What…no, I don’t want a bloody jam sandwich, OK?! Just leave me alone!”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that. You’re not meant to die, you see. Not today, anyway. I mean, it seems pretty clear to me that you’re not going to anyway, so I probably don’t need to be here, but, y’know, it’s good etiquette.” He took one of the triangles out of the bag and had a huge bite. “Mmm,” he said, with his mouth full. “That’s a good sandwich. Are you sure I can’t tempt you?”

Tony didn’t answer. The pair were silent for a moment. “So what brings you here?” said Hank.

“None of your business.”

“I know it isn’t. But I’m curious. I mean, a man doesn’t just wake up one morning and say to himself, ‘Y’know, I think I’m going to throw myself off a building today. That seems like a fun way to get my morning going.’”

“Do you think this is some sort of joke?!” said Tony.

“Not at all. I’m sure you’re deadly serious. I just…”

“No, I know what you’re doing. You’re stalling. Yeah. You saw me up here and phoned the police and you’re trying to stop me from jumping for just long enough until they arrive.”

Hank smiled. “This isn’t Lethal Weapon, my friend. Have you looked down? I wouldn’t recommend it, but I can assure you that there aren’t hundreds of rubberneckers staring into the sky while the assembled police force rapidly inflate a gigantic air cushion. Besides, I look nothing like Mel Gibson.”

Tony had had enough. He lifted his right foot and held it over the edge. There was a light breeze which made him wobble like a dashboard toy. “Ah-ah,” said Hank. “Don’t be silly.”

“Silly? SILLY?”

“Let me ask you one last question before you make your decision. If you still believe that an early death is your best option then I shall not stand in your way.” He took another bite of his sandwich as Tony put his foot back on the ledge. He was mildly pleased to do so.

“Good choice,” said Hank. “So. My question to you is: what do you think will happen when your head splatters against the tarmac?”

“Well…I’ll die.”

“Bravo, Captain Obvious. Beyond that.”

“I…I don’t know. Heaven, I suppose. I think I’ve been a good person.”

“Catholics believe suicide is a sin, you know.”

“I’m Anglican.”

“But what if the Catholics are right?”

“Then…I’ll go to Hell.”

“Uh-huh. And your family. What will happen to them?”

“They…you…what the hell are you doing?” Tears started to stream down Tony’s face.

“I’m trying to save your life. What will your family do?”

“They’ll…be better. Better off without me.”

“And I’m sure you’ve convinced yourself of that. But it seems to me that you’re making a lot of leaps of faith before you take your very literal leap of faith.

“I…stop screwing with me!”

“I’m not screwing with you. I’m just telling you the truth. This is what’ll happen to your family. They’ll be devastated. Your wife will be sucked so hard into the black hole of depression that she may never be able to crawl her way out of it. Your children will be taken into care, forced to grow up with people who will never understand their suffering. They’ll forever resent their father for being a selfish son of a bitch who’d rather take his own life than clean up his act and sort his life out. Your son will grow up to be a carbon copy of you. In the space of thirty storeys, you can corrupt him. And you? Well, you’ll just be lying in a hole in the ground with your face rotting off and being eaten from the inside out by bugs smaller than a pinhead, never able to accomplish any of the great things that a man can do with his short time on Earth.

“But if that all sounds better to you, then feel free to jump.”

Tony didn’t say anything, but whimpered softly. He lifted his left foot, but brought it behind his body, not in front. He stepped onto the roof and fell to his backside, crying so hard Hank thought his eyes might fall out. Hank swung his legs back from the ledge and went over to Tony. He crouched down to his level.

“It’ll be alright, I promise. You’re a good man with a great family. Like jam, you’re good alone. But you’re much better when you’re surrounded by the bread of love. Oh my, I’m so sorry for that truly dreadful metaphor. Flowery language has never been my strongest suit. But you get the gist.”

“Wh…wh…who…what…?”

“You don’t need the answer to that question. Here,” Hank put the bag containing the sandwiches on the ground. He’d eaten one of the triangles, but the other was still there. “Goodbye.”

Hank left Tony’s life forever.

AGAIN!

Hello.

A few months back, I launched Not Quite Normal, my first short story anthology. It’s done moderately well, probably about as well as I expected, but I don’t think it’s quite lived up to its potential yet. This morning, I had a radical idea which may or may not work.

On this coming Wednesday, 1/8/12, I will be launching a third and final version of Not Quite Normal to go along with the previously released full and free editions. This new version will be called the Abridged Edition. It will contain a new introduction, a new cover, and ten Not Quite Normal tales, as well as a discount code for the full edition. Four of the ten stories were previously exclusive to the full edition.

In essence, the Abridged Edition contains my ten favourite stories from Not Quite Normal and should therefore, I hope, be the ‘tightest’ edition. Its extent is approximately half that of the full Not Quite Normal. It will be available on Smashwords for 99 US cents from Wednesday, and on all other good eBook retailers soon after that, as well as probably some of the bad ones.

So, these are the editions of Not Quite Normal as of this week and their contents:

Full Edition:

19 short stories, plus bonus content for $1.99.

Abridged Edition:

10 short stories, plus a discount code for the Full Edition, for 99 cents.

Free Edition:

9 short stories, free of charge.

I’m really proud of the work I’ve done on Not Quite Normal, and I’ve had some positive feedback about it. If you haven’t yet checked out any of the editions, please do, it really does mean a lot to me. After Wednesday, though, I’m putting it to bed. I don’t want to be accused of constantly recycling the same content, so I will be devoted to my other projects from now on. But this is one last throw of the dice, one last option for potential buyers, and hopefully it’ll be a good one. Time will tell.

While I’m on the subject, until the Abridged Edition comes out (i.e. until tomorrow), you can still download the full version of Not Quite Normal from Smashwords for just 99 cents. Follow this link to buy – because of the Abridged Edition‘s release it’s unlikely I’ll be discounting the full edition for everyone for quite some time, so this is your best chance to get it on the cheap!

The Road

Hello.

I’ve been meaning to write this blog all day. Actually, for the last two. Sorry for my tardiness. (I nearly mis-spelt that ‘tardis’ – I think my inner Doctor Who geek is clawing his way out!) I’ve mostly been panicking about the very thing I’m going to blog about. So maybe this’ll help me vent a little.

Obviously, on Wednesday, I released Not Quite Normal, my short story anthology, at long last. As I write this, it’s actually doing pretty well. The free edition has had 61 downloads and somewhere in the region of 200 page views. That’s a pretty decent return! The actual, paid version, has had one sale. Now, this might not sound like a lot – because technically it, uh, isn’t – but I can’t accuarely put into words how happy that has made me. Someone, out there, has spent actual money on something I’ve made. It just…blows my mind. If the person who bought it reads this, I can’t thank you enough. It’s just incredible. Even if it’s the only copy that gets sold, it’s validated me a little. Made me feel that, with enough hard work, dedication and (more than a little) luck, I can start to make a life of this. I know it’s one sale of $2, and I’m probably overstating it, but it’s how I feel right now. Maybe I’ll feel differently in the morning. Who knows. But thanks.

ANYWAY.

To what I’ve been panicking about. Obviously, I’ve been using a site called Smashwords for my epublishing needs. And great they are too. But there have been some…issues that I want to clear up with y’all.

Firstly,Not Quite Normal is currently exclusive to Smashwords. But Smashwords operates a distribution network which means that it will eventually end up on sites like iTunes and Amazon’s Kindle Marketplace (although I believe they’re having some issues with Amazon at the moment). This process can take a little while, alas. But what’s been worrying me is the fact that my freeNot Quite Normal samples have appeared on Amazon. Seriously. Search Shane Rynhart on either amazon.com or amazon.co.uk. You’ll notice something is a bit…odd.

Amazon are charging for them.

This is a HUGE problem. They are free on purpose. They are samples. I want to make absolutely clear right here and now that, if someone purchased one of them, I would not see a penny of the return. I don’t know who would. Presumably Amazon. Hell, the copy ofMirrors on there doesn’t even have the cover I made! I’ve gotten in touch with Smashwords about it, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet. Which isn’t helping my worry. Obviously talking about it here isn’t going to make any difference either, but it makes me feel happier knowing that it’s out there.

Basically, what I’m saying is that currently if you want to buy or download any of my stories, please do so exclusively through my Smashwords page. I appreciate that that makes it pretty awkward – I’ve had a couple of messages saying that it being on iTunes would make things easier, and I totally accept that – but it’s the only way I know that everything’s alright, if that makes sense. I can keep track of how many people have downloaded things, how many copies of Not Quite Normal have sold and so on. Smashwords does have some information about how one can transfer downloads from their site onto various devices (like the iPad or Kindle) – I highly recommend having a look if you’re interested but concerned. I can also verify that Smashwords is also safe to put card/PayPal details into.

I am looking at other methods of distribution. I can manually put Not Quite Normal on Amazon, but I’d rather not until the whole thing with my ‘free’ eBooks is sorted. And, alas, manually uploading to iTunes is going to be impossible, since you need a US tax ID. You can get one from within in the UK, but with the amount of red tape involved it probably wouldn’t be on iTunes until about Christmas…by which point, I’d like to think, everything is going to have been sorted with Smashwords anyway. But I will look at other ways over the weekend – maybe other eBook distributors or, if it came to it, some sort of manual purchasing system right here. If I could work out how to sort something like that out, o’course.

I’m sure I’m boring you now, so I’ll leave it at that. But please keep reading my stuff and, if you like it, do consider buying a copy of Not Quite Normal. You’d make me the happiest man alive.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

It Just Ain’t Right

Hello.

I’ve never written a blog in advance on this, well, blog before. But I’ll make an exception this time. When this goes up, it will be 29/2/12, the day that I finally bring out Not Quite Normal. A project that’s been a year in the offing and five in the production. I hope that if you’re reading this, you’ll consider buying a copy. When it’s actually been uploaded and formatted, I’ll put a link to it. Once again, there will be a free version and a paid one. That will be $1.99 USD, payable through PayPal (I don’t believe you need an account, you can use their system for a debit or credit card). If necessary, I know of a place where I can sell it outside of PayPal, since I know that’s a point of contention for some people. That’s just how Smashwords, my ‘publishers’, do payments. It’ll be available exclusively through their site for a couple of weeks before they can distribute it to iTunes and Sony and Barnes & Noble and so on. I’m looking into getting it on Amazon’s Kindle store as well. I’ll give an update about that as and when. Frankly, I’ve been focussed more on getting Not Quite Normal completely finished than distribution. But Smashwords are great, and perfectly safe, so there’s no need to worry.

At the tail end of last week, I decided it might be a good idea to make a trailer for the anthology. A little video. I considered a Vlog, and then realised that I’m not very good at talking to actual people, let alone speaking like a loon into my computer screen. So I made a stop-motion animation. Yeah, I know. It took far longer than I had anticipated, but I was very happy with the results. You can check it out here. Pass it on, if you want. That would be nice.

Anyway. To Not Quite Normal. Here is the table of contents. It might give you a bit of a flavour of the stories within. You’ll recognise some of them – the free previews, and maybe one or two more. Items that are bolded are in the Free Edition, everything else (including the bolded items, of course) are in the paid one.

Introduction

The Helper (Part 1)

Red

Not Quite Normal

The Well of Wisdom

Tomahawk

Clacking

Endeavour

Mirrors

The Helper (Part 2)

Genocide by P45

The River

The White Door

Truth or Dare

Late Night TV

Lovely

The Suez Crisis

St. Martin’s Eve

A Perfect Endeavour

The Helper (Part 3)

Appendices:

Notes on the Text

Red (Draft 1)

Image Credits

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Contact

End Note

Essentially, if you download the free version, you’ll get nine stories, plus a little end-matter. (You might have noticed I’ve cheated a little with The Helper – I’m counting it as three stories since they practically are!) This all adds up to about 17,000 words. For free. Don’t say I never get you anything nice.

On the other hand, if you pay $1.99 (around £1.25 Sterling) – which, let’s be honest, in this day and age is barely anything (to send a DVD in the UK First Class is £1.09, let me put it that way) – you’ll get all nineteen stories, plus a lot of extra bonus content. This comes in at around 52,000 words. That’s about six thousand more than The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, incidentally. How good is that?! Some of them are even quite good. I promise.

Making Not Quite Normal has been a great experience. Whether it pays off or not – my aim, if you read my last blog post, is to at least sell enough copies to get paid – I’ve had fun. And it’s certainly not going to be the end. I’ll do it all over again in the future, one way or the other. No doubt. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

Almost

Hello.

Today I released the fifth and final preview of my short story anthology Not Quite Normal. As I announced last week, the anthology will be out next Wednesday, 29/2/12. The new preview is called The Helper – Part 1 and I will love you forever if you’d be so kind as to download it and help me spread the word a little.

If you’re wondering, Parts 2 and 3 will be released in Not Quite Normal. All three are – obviously – part of the same tale, but each is also perfectly readable as a standalone story. It’s kind of like Star Wars – they make sense individually, but it works on a new level if they’re read at the same time. I hope you enjoy it. I really like the story (ego alert).

I thought I’d divulge a little more information on Not Quite Normal this evening, since we’re in the home stretch.

As I’ve said numerous times, there will be two different versions of Not Quite Normal released. The first will be totally free. What I haven’t said before is how many stories that will include. Well, I’m going to say now – nine. That’s the five previews plus four new ones. I don’t quite know how many words that will come to, but I’d estimate around 20,000. For free. Nice, yeah?

The paid edition will include all of the free stories, of course, plus ten more. On top of that, there will be some bonus material. There’ll be a section where I explain some of my writing methods and thought processes etc, for one. I’m going to include a first draft of one of the stories in NQN, called Red, because it’s so dramatically different from the finished article and will hopefully give the reader some idea of my editing process. I may or may not even include some poetry that I’ve written, if I’ve got enough balls come publishing time. All in all, I’m estimating that the full version of Not Quite Normal will come to about 50,000 words. Give or take, obviously.

And the price? As promised, it will be low and under a couple of quid. All things being equal, it’ll be $1.99 – according to Google, that’s £1.27 on today’s exchange rate. I think that’s probably a decent price for 50,000 words that I’ve been working on for the past five years, wouldn’t you agree? But I may reduce it for the first few days – Smashwords has a coupon system that I may experiment with – to try and tempt some more people.

My aims for the project are modest and – I like to think – realistic. I have no idea how many people are going to download Not Quite Normal, but I’m hoping for a handful. I’ll be blunt – I need to have sold $10 worth of product to get paid by Smashwords. That’s 6 copies at $1.99 in order to push it over the limit. That’s translating approximately 10% of the people who’ve downloaded previews into full purchases. I think that’s achieveable. Maybe. If I can get that then I’ll be a happy man. If more people than that buy it, I’ll be ecstatic. I’ll be honest, though, I’m nervous.

Anyway. If you want to help (God knows I need it!), please retweet, share on Facebook, download the previews and generally help me to get the word out. If you do something for me, even a retweet of one of my plugs, email me – srynhart@gmail.com is what you need – and I’ll shower you with praise and perhaps some sort of reward. I really want this to work and, as I said, all it will take is six people paying less than $2 to make me the happiest man on the planet.

I’ll leave before I start to sound desperate. I don’t mean to, but I do genuinely care about this project and want it to work. Hopefully, you know that.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

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