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New short(ish) story: “SCOOP!”…

As you may recall from this post, I have recently formed a new partnership with the lads from FoulEnt, on the Niume blogging platform. I had initially supplied our page with several of my existing short stories, which were all written for Linda G Hill’s Stream of consciousness Saturday feature, but I have finally gotten around to writing an all-new story which was posted on Toileterature earlier today.

It was an interesting experience, sitting down to intentionally write an original story, with no prompt and no specific theme in mind, but nevertheless I soon took the familiar route of just making it up as I went along, with no plan at all of where it would end up, so I suppose I’m lucky it didn’t try to turn itself into a novel.

Since this blog is my primary site and only exists for my own amusement and the benefit of you, my lovely readers, I thought it only fair that I should post it here in full. 

So here is Scoop! I hope you enjoy it.

{For those of you with sensitive dispositions; there is quite a bit of strong language, so consider yourselves warned} 

Geoff

Geoff Standish stared down at the keyboard in irritation, then back up at the pristine white screen of his computer, willing his brain to come up with a new angle. His stomach rumbled loudly and looked at his watch, noticing he’d missed his break and wondering if he could sneak out before his boss returned from yet another extended, boozy lunch

He hadn’t appreciated how easy he’d had it, when he’d been chief writer on the tiny local paper at home and, until he started as junior crime correspondent on the Evening Echo, it hadn’t occurred to him how difficult it would be to make his name; now he had to compete for stories with Darren, the ambitious young reporter who ran the crime desk. 

It wasn’t that Geoff was a bad writer, exactly, but he had done a fair amount of blagging at the interview to secure this, the next step on the road to his dream job of reporting for the nationals. He knew it had been a risk, lying about his qualifications, but he had figured his resumé would be enough to convince any new employer of his suitability for the position; especially since the editor at his last paper was his ex father-in-law and Geoff had reckoned on a getting a good reference from him, even if it was just to make sure he left the paper and didn’t come back.  

Splitting up with Mandy had obviously been a factor in him changing jobs, but he managed to persuade himself that he’d finally made the move to the big time because he had outgrown the parochial little rag he’d worked for since leaving school (conveniently ignoring the fact that Mandy’s father and two brothers had promised to beat the shit out of him if he  ever spoke to her again) and, despite everyone else knowing his ex-wife had taken his job like the opportunistic bitch she was, he knew his destiny as a Pulitzer prize winning journalist was still within reach 

The trouble was, there wasn’t a lot to report on around here and he had been reduced to writing a weekly “around the courts” column, which was no more than a list of neighbourhood drunks, vandals and bored teenagers, fighting in the city centre on a Saturday night.

What he needed was a proper crime, something he could really get his teeth into.

*****

Mandy

She drained the last mouthful of cheap coffee, dropped her paper cup into the bin with an expression of distaste and glared around the empty office. Why had she taken this bloody dead end job in the first place? If she hadn’t been so keen to fuck Geoff over, she never would have accepted her father’s offer to “make a bit of extra spending money”, particularly if she’d known how much of her time it would take up.

What was even worse, that useless little turd had got himself a proper job with a big city paper, which he wouldn’t have had the guts to apply for if it hadn’t been for the family cutting him loose when they divorced last year. She didn’t know why her father hadn’t cut out the middleman and sent her  to the Echo with a glowing reference, and simply sacked her idiot ex-husband. 

Except of course, she did know; alimony. If Geoff was out of work, she wouldn’t get the money her father’s flash lawyer had managed to screw out of him in the divorce.

She was almost disappointed that he hadn’t tried to get in touch with her since they split up, if only because of the kicking her bothers would happily inflict on him if he dared come around here again…
All of a sudden Mandy became very still and for a while she appeared deep in thought.

After a minute or two, she began to smile.

*****

Darren

“Fuck!” 

Darren Blake wasn’t having a good day. 

“You bastards, I’ll sue you to fucking smithereens, you wait and see!”

He stood on the kerb, shaking his fist at the recovery vehicle as it towed his brand new Porsche away from the restaurant, the bright yellow clamp easily visible against the gleaming black paintwork.

He’d only had a quick working lunch and a couple of drinks, he couldn’t have been more than half an hour over on the parking meter, 45 minutes, tops. And when he came out, those two fucking gorillas in hi-vis jackets were winching his beloved car onto their bloody flatbed truck like it was some piece of scrap to be junked. Well, if they’d as much as scuffed the tyres, he’d have their bollocks for desk ornaments.

Darren smiled grimly, “bollocks for desk ornaments”, that was a good one, he’d have to remember that, for when he was recounting the story of this shitty day to the lads in the office…he looked at his watch;

“Shit.” Darren looked up and down the busy street, “Taxi!”

*****

Geoff had just finished the last of his court reports; a case involving a dispute over the height of a conifer hedge, a story not even the most sensationalist reporter could make interesting, when the sound of a phone ringing made him look up. It wasn’t his phone, he hardly ever got calls from outside lines this late on a Friday afternoon, so he stood up to look over his cubicle and saw a light flashing on Darren’s fancy desk console.

Should he answer it? It could be a huge story, he’d kick himself if he missed his big break through indecisiveness at a time like this. 

He stared at the light, flashing in time with the phone’s insistent ringing, sounding loud in the deserted office.

“Oh, what the hell.”

He walked quickly round the partition, proud of his ability to make snap decisions, and snatched up the receiver in a way that he (wrongly) thought of as being the way a go-getting, thrusting young executive answered the phone. Sadly, the cord was a lot shorter than he’d realised and the receiver sprang out of his hand and clattered against the side of the desk before Geoff got it anywhere near his ear.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” 

He was just bending down to retrieve the dangling phone handset, from which he could hear the tinny “Hello…hello?…”  of the caller’s voice, when a voice a lot closer to home made Geoff grit his teeth and groan inwardly.

“Whoa there, Geoff! You taking up phone juggling? Hahaha!” 

He looked up to see Darren, striding in through the double doors of the office, like he was making a grand entrance at a fucking state dinner, shrugging out of his poncey camel hair coat and peeling off those ridiculous fucking driving gloves he insisted on wearing, (he would have been even more furious if he’d known Darren had arrived by cab) then reaching out an imperious hand for the phone as Geoff finally managed to wrestle it into submission.

“Fuck you, Darren, I got to it first. Who the fuck do you think you are anyway? Swanning around like you fucking own the place, you’re not fit to shine my shoes, you piece of shit…” 

…Is what Geoff wanted to say.

But instead, he just meekly handed the phone to his smirking boss and scuttled back to his cubicle, seething with self-hatred and, more importantly, Darren-hatred, as he listened to the one sided conversation.

“Hello, sorry about that, my assistant is rather clumsy today.”….(Geoff could feel a vein in his temple throbbing)…”Yes, yes this is the crime desk, Darren Blake speaking, how may I help you?”…..”Oh, hi Stacey love, I thought I recognised that sexy voice, haha, what have you got for me?”…..”Really? And where was this?”……”You’re a star, Stacey, haven’t I always said so?”……”Hahaha, oooh, you’ll get me into trouble one of these days, you little minx. Let me buy you dinner one night, ok?”…..”Mmm, I’d love to. I’ll speak to you soon, gotta go babe, call me. Ciao Bella, mwah!”

Darren glanced over at Geoff’s cubicle, from where there came a sharp splintering noise and some muffled swearing. He frowned and snapped his fingers loudly a few times, as if summoning a particularly inattentive waiter.

“Geoff?” **snap snap**  “Geoff, I need to borrow your car, mate.” **snap snap**  “Come on, keys, I’m in a hurry.”

Geoff paused in the act of picking splinters of the pencil he’d been holding out of the palm of his hand and slowly rose from his chair, peering suspiciously over the partition at Darren, still holding his hand out impatiently.

“Come on, come on, I haven’t got all day.” **snap snap**  “That was my police contact, with a tip about a robbery over in Thornbury. I’m going over there to interview the alleged victim now and my motor has been fucking clamped, so I need yours.”

“Umm, but I was…”

“Yeah, well you’ll have to get the bus home, won’t you? This is a big story, I’m not losing out to some hack from the nationals, just because you got all precious about your bloody Citroen Picasso.”

Geoff hesitated, maybe he could reach some sort of compromise;

“How about if I drive you?” He fished the keys out of his pocket, but stopped short of handing them over.

“Nah, sorry Geoff, this is strictly need to know, old chap,” Darren took a quick step forward and snatched the keys before he had a chance to react, “confidential informants and all that, you know how it is.”

He turned to go, the camel coat flaring out dramatically from his shoulders as he pocketed Geoff’s keys, then as an afterthought, he looked back with a grin.

“Don’t forget to keep your bus ticket, you can put in a claim for travel expenses, hahaha.”

Then he was gone and Geoff was alone in the office once more.

*****

Stacey grinned to herself as she hung up the phone. She didn’t know what sort of prank her friend Mandy was pulling on that twat, Darren from the Echo, but whatever it was, he deserved it. “Ciao Bella” ? Really? What a prick.

*****

Geoff stepped through the front doors of the Evening Echo building and turned up the collar of his jacket against the drizzle, just in time to see his own car pull away from its parking space and head for the main exit. A taxi pulled up and four girls from the typing pool got out and pushed past him without even glancing in his direction, chattering and laughing together, completely unaware of his existence. He glared bitterly at their retreating figures, despising them for their happiness, turned back to the cab, then looked once more for his car and saw it was just pulling out into traffic.

Then, on the spur of the moment, feeling like a real investigative journalist for a change, he yanked open the taxi’s rear door, jumped in and held a twenty pound note over the seat to the startled driver.

“Follow that car!”

*****

Mandy stood at the window, smoking nervously and watching the gated entrance of her gravel driveway for the arrival of her guest. She was confident the call to her friend at the police station would make her pathetic excuse for an ex-husband come running, hungry for The Big Story that would make his career, and she didn’t want to miss the start of the show.

She didn’t have long to wait. Mandy was stubbing out her cigarette in an overflowing ashtray when she saw a car swing into the drive. The rain, falling more heavily now, was visible in the headlight beams as late afternoon turned to dusk and dusk, in turn, lost its battle with the gathering storm clouds, the resulting gloom filtering everything through a grey murk that reduced visibility to a few yards.

Geoff’s Citroen pulled up by the front door and Mandy frowned in irritation as he parked the wrong way round, brake lights flaring briefly through the rain. The interior light came on, she saw his silhouette lean across the seat to grab something and a few seconds later he climbed out, shrugged into that grotty old raincoat of his and hurried to reach the shelter of the porch.

*****

Darren flipped the wipers on as the drizzle turned to a steady downpour and peered through the windscreen, trying to make out road signs as he passed yet another narrow junction on the unlit country lane.
“Bloody hell, Geoff, haven’t you ever heard of SatNav, for fuck’s sake?”

He glanced down at the open notebook on the seat next to him, checking the address once more and looked up just in time to see he was approaching a crossroads. He slowed Geoff’s car to be sure he didn’t miss anything, scanning the signpost on the corner,

“Barnfield Road, yes! Thank fuck for that.”

Darren turned left and continued for another half a mile before he saw lights ahead of him, which as he got closer he realised were attached to gate posts. This looks like the place, he thought, pulling into the gateway and driving up to the large, ivy-covered house, where he parked and looked up in distaste at the shitty weather outside. Not wanting to get his expensive coat soaking wet, he took one of Geoff’s that he’d found on the back seat, picked up his notebook and stepped out into the rain.

Turning the collar up, he ran to the front door and had his foot on the first of three wide stone steps when he was grabbed violently from behind and a heavy sack was thrown over his head. Darren tried to yell for help, but a punch to the kidneys knocked the wind out of him. While he was gasping for air something was pulled roughly across his mouth, his head was yanked back as the coarse material of the sacking cut into his face and tongue and he gagged.

His attacker was not only unseen, but also silent, emitting only the occasional grunt as he easily held onto the struggling crime reporter, but then he heard another voice, shockingly close to his right ear.

“Hello, Geoff, looks like you’ve been a naughty boy, coming round here where you’re not wanted.”

The owner of the voice tutted, as if this was a personal disappointment to him and that Geoff had badly let him down.

“Except I’m not fucking Geoff!” Darren wanted to scream, but he couldn’t make anything more than choking, wheezing noises, so he just frantically shook his head and prayed this was all some kind of horrible mistake.

Then he heard a door open somewhere in front of him and a woman’s voice spoke to whoever held him.

“Take him into the barn, we don’t want a mess in the house.”

His captor’s grip loosened as he switched hands for a brief second and Darren broke free and made a run for it. He desperately sprinted away from the voices, only half-registering the sound of laughter, thinking he had to be heading away from the house and towards the road.

He thought that for about five seconds, because after that he ran into the side of Geoff’s car.

Hard.

*****

Geoff, meanwhile, was crouched in the shadow of a dripping conifer hedge halfway down the drive, having successfully tailed his own car in a taxi all the way to…Mandy’s house!

He couldn’t fucking believe it, how did Darren not know whose house this was? Her old man was in newspapers, for fuck’s sake, he attended all the press piss-ups and had even visited The Echo once as a guest of their chief executive. Some bloody crime editor he is, Geoff thought bitterly, I could do his job standing on my head.

He watched as Darren climbed out of his car and scurried to the front door.

“That’s my coat, you thieving…”

Then Geoff saw Mandy’s two brothers; a couple of gorillas in jogging suits, jumping out of the flower beds that surrounded the area in front of the house and grabbing Darren as he got to door of the porch. One of them dropped a hood over his head and gagged him, before the door opened and his ex-wife appeared.

After Darren’s abortive escape attempt had left him unconscious on the immaculate gravel, Geoff watched in horror as the gorilla twins dragged his limp body round the side of the house and into the darkened barn. A few minutes later, Mandy came out of the house and followed them inside, closing the door behind her.

*****

Mandy felt a thrill of excitement as she walked quickly through the rain to the barn; she had been waiting for this for too long not make the most of it and now it was actually happening, she wanted to savour every minute.

The door swung closed behind her and she headed to the far end of the darkened building where the small tractor and plough was parked under a circle of yellow light, cast by a single shaded bulb. It also illuminated the sad figure of Geoff, who was tied to a wooden chair, sack over his head and rope gag still in place. Mandy saw with amusement that he hadn’t got rid of that horrible old coat, which must be all of ten years old by now, but then Geoff never had been any good at buying clothes, as she had constantly pointed out to him, to no avail.

Her brothers, Derek and Kevin, were standing either side of the chair, looking very pleased with themselves indeed, so she gave them a nod of gratitude as she approached the strange little tableau; like a gangster, about to exact terrible revenge on a rival, she thought, with two of her top wise guys there to back her up.

“So, Geoff, you seem to have got yourself in a spot of bother. Why on Earth would you come round here on a night like this, when you surely knew the kind of welcome you’d get?”

At this, Geoff began to make some very odd noises and started to thrash about in his chair a fair bit, all of which Del and Kev found highly amusing and let him continue for a moment, before Kev gave him a swift back-hander round the side of the head and he toppled over. 

Right onto the upturned blade of the tractor’s folding plough.

The tip of the sharply pointed blade punched straight through sack, skin and skull as if it were no harder than the clay soil in the fields. The bound figure jerked violently for a couple of seconds, then slumped and hung, shifting with an unpleasant cracking noise as the weight of the body in the chair was preventing from reaching the ground by the steel blade buried in its head. 

Mandy stared in horror at the rapidly spreading pool of blood, more pouring from the stained sacking by the second and she tried to scream. Nothing came out except a strangled squeak and her legs buckled under her; she collapsed to her knees on the hard bricks and the last thing she saw before she was swallowed by the black pit of unconsciousness were her two brothers, being noisily sick on each other’s feet.

*****

Darren

Eeerrghh, Ow, what the fuck?  What the FUCK!?  Who was that crazy bitch?  And why did she think I was that twat, Geoff, for fuck’s sake?  I can’t fucking move…Wait, I’m fucking tied up!

“Mmmffghff drrg ghrrffff mmnggff!!”

This fucking gag, I’m going to choke, you bastards. What the fuck do they want? Wait, what’s that…footsteps?  The bitch is back, shit. 

“So, Geoff, you seem to have got yourself in a spot of bother…”

I’m not Geoff, you fucking stupid cow! Why don’t you understand, whatever you think I’ve done, I’m not him!  Look, just take off this fucking hood and you’ll…

Owww, you cu…

Oh shit, I’m falling over, catch me you bastards…

Whooaaaaa…

Crunch.

*****

Geoff ran to the door of the barn as soon as it closed behind Mandy and peered in through a knot hole. He watched events unfold, clapping a hand over his mouth to stop his cry of horror giving him away as Darren met his sudden demise, then turned and half ran, half stumbled to his car. With a sigh of relief he saw Darren had left the keys in the ignition and he simply got in and drove away.

When he was a safe distance from the house, Geoff pulled over and rested his head on the steering wheel for a moment, until he got the shaking under control. Then he made two phone calls; an anonymous one to the police and another, slightly more satisfying one to his editor, who he interrupted while he was at a press association dinner.

“This had better be bloody good, Standish, they’re just bringing out the brandy. Have you finally found your Big Story, you bloody well better have?”

“Yes sir,” said Geoff, staring out into the rainy night, “I think you could say that, yes.”

 

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A gentle reminder…

I’m currently waiting with great anticipation for the publication of my accidental novel, The Wrong Stuff, but while I wait, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that of all the other books containing my work (writing as Guy Thair) are still available.

{Clicking on the images will take you to the Amazon links}

Stories In Green Ink is an eclectic selection of short stories by new writers, featuring three of my twisty mystery tales.

The second collection that I contributed work to, Short Stories and Tall Tales is also a mixed bag of short fiction…

…as is Figure In The Mist.

I was also honoured to be asked to write an introduction to The Foodie Book, an anthology of recipes and culinary-based anecdotes which was sold to raise money for cancer research charities.

And finally, the most recent collection that I added an introduction to; Windmills And Paper Boats, the charity book of children’s stories, illustrations and poems which I was delighted to be able to dedicate to my daughter, Audrey

So if you’re short of Christmas ideas for that awkward person in your life, give them the gift of words this year.
**********
Coming soon…

If you haven’t got round to reading the original, SoCS-inspired posts from which The Wrong Stuff grew, then I’m afraid you’re now out of luck. I’ve made them private, prior to the final edit being published as a real, actual novel.

Watch this space.

 

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A literary hat trick…

Yes, it’s bragging time again.
Today I received an e-mail from the lovely Catherine Broughton, who told me that the third anthology of short stories to feature my work is out now.

Figure in the Mist is available on Amazon and you can order your copy by either using this link, or by clicking the artwork above.

The pictures of the cover art for the two previous books are eminently clickable too, and they will also take you to the relevant pages, should you wish to purchase copies of them.

I would be extremely grateful to any of you who buy the books (or have already done so) if you would be so kind as to leave a review, as Catherine informs me that a book with a favourable review or two sells better than those without one.

Thanks again for all your support and generous compliments on my fiction writing, it really means a lot to me when I hear that you have enjoyed the stuff that spills out of my head when I start typing.

Here are those other two book links, so if you have a friend with a birthday coming up…

Happy reading.

 

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Pluggin’, baby…

Yes, it’s time for another burst of shameless self promotion and a bit of a publishing update.

Both anthologies; Stories in Green Ink and Short Stories and Tall Tales, containing a total of four of my twisty mystery tales, (writing as Guy Thair) as well as an eclectic selection of work by other new writers, are still available for Kindle and in paperback. 

I was flattered to be asked to write an introduction to The Foodie Book; a charity fundraiser publication which compiles recipes, cooking tips and culinary anecdotes from around the world. It is still available, with sales going to support cancer charities.

Not only that, but due to an update of the WordPress mobile app’s post editor by their Happiness Engineers, you can now click the book artwork above and it will take you straight to the Amazon page of your choice.

As for upcoming releases; the lovely Catherine Broughton has once again honoured me by asking me to write another introduction, this time to a book of stories and poems for children, again with proceeds going to charity. 

And finally, Catherine is once more compiling a fiction anthology and she has asked me to submit another short story, so I’m going to try and convince her to take one with a sci-fi twist, (not a genre listed in the guidelines I was given, but it never hurts to ask) just because I’d like to see it in print.

So there you go, my published back catalogue and works in progress, all in one handy to digest post and, as a reward for your attention, here’s a musical gem to play us out; (Yeah, I know, I’ve probably posted it before, but it’s such a great song) Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Muse…

 

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#atozchallenge: S is for Self promotion…

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As I’m sure you are all aware, I’m an unassuming and modest sort of chap, not inclined to blowing my own trumpet or patting myself on the back, so it pains me to have to tell you this; today’s A-Z challenge is a shameless plug for my own work.

I know, shocking isn’t it.

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I might have let it slip in the past that I have had some of my short stories published in a real, actual book, and now a second collection is available, called Short Stories and Tall Tales, it is being sold to raise money for the excellent British Heart Foundation and you can find it AT THIS LINK.

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I’m also assured that the cookery book for which I wrote an introduction (I know, bizarre, right?) is out soon, subject to some final squabbling about the cover art, but until then, please support a worthy cause; buy the new anthology and/or share the link, thanks.

#atozchallenge

 

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#atozchallenge: I is for Introduction…

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I’m not entirely sure whether I’ve mentioned this before, but some of my short stories are featured in an actual book, (which is available on Amazon at that link, in paperback or Kindle edition) and there is a second anthology being released soon, which also contains one of my twisty little tales.

The stories in both of these collections are published under my real name, Guy Thair; the name under which I shall be writing an introduction to a completely separate book.

Catherine Broughton, the lady who originally approached me to submit my work for the short story collections, has asked if I would write an introduction to a “foodie book”, which will include recipes, anecdotes and other culinary  compositions.
As if that wasn’t a good enough incentive to get involved, (I do love to cook. And eat, obviously) sales of the book are raising money for cancer research, a very worthy cause indeed.

That’s still to come, (although Stories in Green Ink, the original anthology, is available to purchase now) but for now, I have another introduction to make, sort of.

I have, purely by coincidence, had reason to mention my friend, Tracy the talented artist, face painter and balloon sculptor, twice since the start of the A-Z challenge, so maybe introduction isn’t exactly the right word, but this is something new, so it’ll have to do for now.

Tracy and her two boys came round for lunch yesterday and she mentioned that she was thinking about setting up a proper site to showcase her work, as opposed to her page and the various groups she belongs to on Facebook.
I suggested that she try WordPress, as I’ve always found it to be very user-friendly and self-explanatory, so while she was here, I installed the mobile app on her phone and helped her set up her very own blog.

Since she is also involved in a challenge this month, (to paint to a theme each day) Tracy already had the ideal way to break virtual ground on her new project, the fabulously named balloonfacetrace, so please click the link below, pop over to show her some blogger solidarity (I’ve told her how helpful and friendly WordPress folks are) and welcome her to our world.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT BALLOONFACETRACE

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#atozchallenge

 

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Just Jot It January: Day twenty one…

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I’m just jotting a quick update for today’s JJIJ post, because I’ve just received yet another award nomination and I’d like to be able to do it justice in its own post later on.

So…

Since I told you my exciting news the other day, about being given a second opportunity to have my work published, I have sent in a story that I wanted to include in Stories In Green Ink, but which was too long to fit the submission criteria.
Well, I heard back from the publisher yesterday that it has been accepted. Yay!

Not only that, but I also managed to sort out the problem that some of my American readers were apparently having with finding the book on the US Amazon site.
I got this response to my e-mail;

“Hello,

I checked our US website and can confirm your Kindle book is indeed live and buyable at a list price of $6.99.

Please be assured that the book can be downloaded to all Kindle devices and applications.

If you still think they didn’t receive the correct version, you can ask them to contact our customer service at this toll-free number, 1-866-216-1072 and they will be able to push the content to you.”

So now you know.

But if you’d like to go directly to the right page, here are those links in full:

U.S. readers go HERE for both formats.

U.K. readers go HERE for Kindle or HERE for paperback.

And, just in case you think I’m only interested in plugging myself, (like the blogslut I most assuredly am) here are a couple of random artistic oddities I made.

A gif of a galaxy…

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…and Fuckface von Clownstick in the role he was born to play; an unprincipled presidential candidate in Stephen King’s The Dead Zone.

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You’re welcome.

#JusJoJan

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 

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Just Jot It January: Day four…

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Day four of Just Jot It January and I have an update on my first foray into publishing.

As I’m sure most of you are already aware, last year I was fortunate enough to be chosen to have one of the short stories I wrote for Stream of Consciousness Saturday included in an anthology of “new fiction by new writers”, via one of my connections on the business networking site, LinkedIn.

I was of course extremely flattered that one of my stories was picked for the collection, especially since I’d only recently begun experimenting in fiction, mainly inspired by Linda G Hill’s writing prompts, (so thank you Linda, you’re officially an inspiration) all of which were written in one take, so to speak.

I had initially submitted a story called “Famous Last Words” to go in the book, (the second story I’d written and even now, one of my favourites) only to be told that it was slightly over the word count required by the publisher and would therefore not qualify for inclusion.
Somewhat disappointed, I nevertheless sent in a list of alternatives, from which I was told one had been chosen as a replacement, so I just sat back waited to see my work in print for the first time.

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Fast forward a couple of weeks and I receive an e-mail telling me that, due to a shortfall in appropriate submissions from other writers, I had been randomly selected to have a second story included and could now have my first choice in the book after all.

Yay!

So imagine my frustration when, having finally taken delivery of my very first printed work of fiction, I discover that although I did indeed have two stories included in the anthology, (as well as being allowed to write the book’s dedication) neither of them were my original choice!

At this point I decided that I’d done all I could to fight my creative corner, I should just think myself lucky I’d made it into print after all and put the whole thing down to experience.

That is, until just after new year, when I received yet another e-mail, this one telling me that although the paperback edition of Stories In Green Ink is a done deal and will not be altered, the Kindle edition contained a small error that hadn’t previously been detected. Apparently, while they were correcting it they decided they would now also like to add “Famous Last Words”, giving me a total of three entries in the electronic version of the collection.

Woohoo!

It would seem that good things do indeed come to those who wait and you can find the Kindle edition of “Stories In Green Ink” right here.

{Thanks again to Catherine Broughton at Turquoise Moon blog for all her help}

#JusJoJan

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 

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Book reminder…

So, the main festivities are over and we’re entering the limbo between Christmas and New Year, where there’s a lot of sitting around with the kids, playing with their new toys, eating leftovers and watching rubbish TV.

So why not give your snoozing brain something to do, use up that Amazon gift voucher you were given by a generous relative and order a copy of Stories In Green Ink, the anthology of new short fiction by new writers which contains two of my short stories (writing as Guy Thair).

I finally got my copy last week and I can’t deny that it’s a thrill to see my words in print even though one of the stories in the book is not the one I expected to be included…

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…and I’m glad that I was able to dedicate the collection to my friend Chris and Rhonda’s aunt Linda, two wonderful people who we lost this year, I know they would both have been suitably proud of my minor literary achievement.

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I would also be very grateful if you’d leave a review of the book after you read it, because positive word of mouth is by far the best marketing in my opinion.

The anthology is available in paperback at this link, or, if you’re one of those high-tech types, you can find the Kindle edition here.

Thank you for your continued support.

 
 

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Small fish / Big pond (or Flounder in the Shark Tank)…

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There’s a certain feeling I get sometimes, one that is difficult to define but no less real for all that.

The sort of feeling I get when I find myself in an environment that I am as yet unfamiliar with, but have nonetheless been invited into by those to whom it is second nature.

It’s a sensation similar to one I’ve experienced when, having been roped into some committee, council, or focus group at work, I suddenly realise that most, if not all of the others present, have the relevant information, skills or training at their disposal and that I’m going to have to blag it somewhat, at least until I know what’s going on.

The earliest example I can recall of this feeling, that I may have accidentally become an imposter, simply by having turned up when invited, was way back in 1980, when I was an innocent young schoolboy in Sussex.

I used to play trumpet in the local Boy Scout marching band and my music teacher suggested I turn up for the weekly band practice at school.
Now, I wasn’t bad at playing the trumpet, (although my long-suffering parents may have disagreed) in fact I had graduated from blowing a basic bugle to playing an actual valve trumpet, learning various rousing marching tunes by ear, with the aid of our slightly eccentric band master in the Scouts.

The key phrase in that sentence is “by ear”, as I realised just too late when I proudly sat down with my instrument case at band practice the following week, took out my trumpet and heard the music teacher say;

“Right, if you’d all open your music score to page three…”

Ah.

“Um, I’m sorry sir, I can’t read music.”

Yes, there was sniggering.

Yes, there was a certain air of communal smugness amongst the rest of the assembled musicians.

And yes, I scuttled from the room, mumbling excuses and vowing never to put myself in such a mortifying situation ever again.

Which, obviously, I still did, we all do, it’s part of life.
Part of the rich and varied learning curve we all have to climb, in order make our way in an increasingly complex world, one where social interaction has given way to social networking and having “friends” no longer means the same thing as it did when we (meaning anyone aged thirty and over) were kids.

But I’ve done pretty well to catch up, I think.
I quickly got the hang of social media.
Well, Facebook anyway.
I’ve got a YouTube account, and Twitter, and tumblr.
I even have my own blog for goodness sake.

So how much different could other social media sites be?

LinkedIn is the social network for the business world and therefore the only experience I’ve had with it so far is when I use it to share blog posts, from which I have previously gained very little traffic.

Then, when I was doing some general maintenance on the blog last week, including adding a LinkedIn share button to the bottom of posts, it occurred to me that it might be worth tidying up my neglected LinkedIn account profile.
Which was when it occurred to me that there are all sorts of professional bloggers, writers, publishers, authors and editors out there, many of whom must use the site to promote themselves, (I know, I know, I told you I was still learning) so I set about finding as many people in those fields as I could and sent them all invites, followed by a polite introductory message, just to see what would happen.

The other thing that I realised was that my profile claimed that I was called “Dale Cooper”, (my initial attempt at persuading the system to accept dalecooper57 as my name having fallen at the first electronic fence) an entirely fictional identity that only exists in two places; my head and the blogosphere.
So before sending out my opening salvo of invites, I took the completely non-executive decision to change the account to my real name, (I’m pretty sure there isn’t anybody who still thinks I’m called Dale Cooper, right?) which is at least a fairly uncommon one, added the details of my day job and updated my profile to make it clear that I was interested in connecting with people in the writing business.

Then I sat back and waited.

Just looking at the LinkedIn newsfeed made me feel out of my depth, scrolling through posts about content management, marketing, copywriting, content development and target demographic optimisation strategies, (ok, I made that last one up) all of which may as well have been in Swahili for all the sense it makes to me.

All of which makes it rather problematic when trying to engage a potentially useful new contact in a conversation that I can steer around to how I might go about getting myself in on the ground floor (or at least into the basement) of the rarified and ephemeral world of published writers.

It turns out I needn’t have worried, all the writers and publishers I have contacted have been sympathetic, helpful and glad to give advice.
Not only that, but I have now built up a network of over eighty LinkedIn users, some of whom actually sent me invites and several of them have already provided me with invaluable hints and tips on creative writing.

But it gets better.

Today I saw a post from one of my new connections, requesting that writers submit short stories to her, for inclusion in a book.

An actual, real, printed book!

So I did, obviously.
I submitted two of the stories that I wrote for my contribution to the Stream of Consciousness Saturday posts and now all I have to do is wait to hear whether they meet all the criteria for inclusion.

In the book.
I did mention there was a book, right?

I’m more excited than a schoolboy who has just realised he can read music.

Watch this space.

{Original Help Desk cartoon by Ho}

 

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