Free Ebook: ‘The Dancing Fish’

Front cover of book: A fish dances on the surface of the ocean. It wears a top hat and carries a cane. A lighthouse flashes its beam in the background.

Do you like playful poetry and drawings? You do? Well, my friend, you’ve come to the right place!

Today through Wednesday, the ebook version my book, The Dancing Fish, will be …. (wait for it) … FREE!

That’s Aug. 16 through 18, 2021 if you’re seeing this post in the future. (Has Dippin’ Dots stopped using the slogan “Ice cream of the future” and is using “Ice cream of the here and now” yet?)

You can grab your free copy here on Amazon.

Not ready to take the plunge and get the book?

Here’s a little background about the book: I was inspired by Shel Silverstein’s books to write silly poems in the hopes of causing my two daughters to giggle. They’re now in their late teens, and I’ve put together a book of many of those poems, along with drawings.

And here’s a bit from the book’s blurb:

Buds on a tree grow into popcorn… a cheese danish escapes… Pomegranate Janet visits a city… a pirate captain changes his life… a ghost tries to scare Maya.

These happenings happen in this collection of poems and drawings. If you count the haiku as a group, there are 100 poems in the book. But if you count the haiku individually, there are 106 poems. Most are accompanied by a black-and-white drawing, some in lovely tones of gray.

You could say these poems are for children, but they’re also for adults with youthful sides that come out for recess.

Still not ready to take the plunge and get the book?

Not only are you a snappy dresser, you’re also a discerning shopper when it comes to free merchandise!

Check out samples of some of the poems in the book:

Free Ebook: ‘Red Tree’

Cover of The Red Tree. The background is white. An image of a leaf-less tree is in black, with red tips of the branches.

The next ebook that can be scooped up for free is much shorter than the previous novellas. The Red Tree is free today through Friday (July 23). If you’d like to scoop up the book, click here.

A description of this story…

While rain falls for weeks, the Engler family invites friends over for an evening of dealing with cabin fever together. And when the spring sun arrives, the Englers celebrate by walking in a wooded park, where they encounter a red tree away from the trail. Guesses abound as to why the tree is red when none of the other trees are.

Life returns to normal for most of the Englers. The father, Calvin, decides the red tree was a sign for him to make changes in his life and property. Changes the family and neighbors don’t quite understand. But some family members can be eccentric, and others learn to roll with it. 

A short story about family, experiencing the mysterious, and letting your imagination loose.

Even shorter than the story is its excerpt, which can be found here.

Free Ebook: ‘Don’t Lose Your Head’

Cover of Don't Lose Your Head. The background is dark gray, with black drips. In the foreground is a photo showing a business suit and tie -- but there is no head above the suit.

A ghost story is my next ebook to be free — starting today and lasting through Tuesday (July 20). This novella, Don’t Lose Your Head, can be found on Amazon.

A little more about this spooky book…

When you leave for a trip, who knows you’re gone from your house? Family and friends, sure. Neighbors, perhaps.

So does the chauffeur who drove you to the airport. Alan Burris takes advantage of working for a car service to know when clients will be away from their houses for several nights. Some houses are easier, since they don’t have a security system — and these houses are on his list for a night visit to steal valuables.

The Resnick house has been on Alan’s list for a while, and now it will be empty for a few nights, since Mr. and Mrs. Resnick are spending a long weekend in Chicago.

But is the house really empty? Alan’s about to find out what it’s like to not be alone in the house, his  car, his apartment, and his head. And with another person hanging around, to what length will Alan go to get rid of them?

You can discover how this story starts by reading an excerpt of the first chapter here.

Free Ebook: ‘Other Lives of the Boothbys’

Cover of Other Lives of the Boothbys. The background is light blue. The title is embedded in other lines of text that are softened by being gray, while the title is in black

Another of my ebooks is available for free: Other Lives of the Boothbys. The promotion starts today and will last through Wednesday (July 14). Download the ebook from here on Amazon.

What is this book about?

Bradley Boothby has no idea why he feels déjà vu when walking by the office building for Rayburn-Turley Publishing. 

Is he included in one of the publishing company’s books? If so, why? Did an author spy on Bradley to steal his life story, which isn’t all that dramatic? The thoughts are far-fetched, so he dismisses them.

But the strange sensation persists, and Bradley finally acts, needing to find if the déjà vu has a foundation. His search touches off consequences for an editor and writer, as they have an impact on each other’s lives. 

Still undecided whether to get a free ebook? Read an excerpt here.

Free Ebook: ‘Jumble’

Front cover of Jumble book. The background is orange, and little drawings are in the JUMBLE title. Drawings such as an elephant, pipe, sock, and bagpipes

Starting today and lasting through Sunday (July 11), you can get the ebook version FREE of Jumble: Stories and Drawings! If you’re interested, head over to Amazon to pick it up.

More of my ebooks will be given away during July, on a staggered schedule.

I hope to get more readers checking out my stories. And if you’d like to add to your summer reading, here’s a way to do it without spending a dime. (Of course, you can also borrow books from the library, but these books are indie grown.) So keep watching this space for upcoming posts of more ebooks enjoying free days.

What is Jumble about?

In this quirky collection, you’ll find 18 short stories and 68 drawings, which are independent of the stories, although a few drawings echo something in the stories, a fine example being an elephant.

Examples of the stories include a man finding joy in a pancake house, a girl interrogated because she picked up the king’s rolling crown, elderly Claude Monet visiting his long-time friend Renoir, a science fiction writer donning a cap of electrodes hooked up to a computer so his dreams could be transcribed, and a group of private detectives hired to research the possibility of reincarnation.

The drawings lean toward the cartoonish and simply illustrated, which could be criticized if you’re of the mindset that drawings need to be highly detailed for them to even begin to be considered of decent quality. Actually, one “drawing” is a kind of flowchart and another is a kind of list, so their categorization as drawings is debatable. Yet the nonexistent marketing team for this book argued that saying it contains 66 drawings, 1 flowchart, and 1 list is too clunky to include in the book’s description.

Want a sample before you make the leap to grab the book? An excerpt from the story “Pancake House” is here.

The 18 short stories are:

  • Pancake House
  • Elephant Curve Road
  • Sock and Glove
  • Bagpipes on the Wind
  • Claude
  • Hidden Spaceship
  • What Dreams May Be Written
  • Uneasy Lies the Head
  • Arrivals, Departures
  • You to the Nth Power
  • Up and Down Stairs
  • Away from the Orchard
  • Auto-reply
  • Farthingstone Manor
  • Streets of the New City
  • That Time You Were a Princess
  • Time Stood Still
  • The Loving Type

Nobody Will Like This Book

Front cover of Nobody Will Like This Book. It has only gray text on a white background.

My latest book is in the world, like a little bird flying from the nest and exploring the world on its own. This is my first time putting together a children’s book, and its called Nobody Will Like This Book.

(Yeah, it’s a sad title. Kind of like B.B. King singing, “Nobody Loves Me But My Mother.”)

But please don’t throw the book a dismissive wave because of the sad title. There’s hope shining on the horizon, after we get through a metaphorical mucky marsh.

Indeed, this book thinks nobody will like it. The reasons: This book has seen other books with beautiful pictures and colors on their covers. And some other books have pictures and colors on their inside pages.

In contrast, this book has only grays. And some pages don’t have a logical sense why they’re next to each other. The book has many drawings on the inside pages. Some of the drawings are silly, such as a ladybug playing a xylophone.

The book’s outlook changes when a friendly book comes by and explains that being different isn’t bad. Instead, it makes books special.

This book is available at Amazon as an ebook for Kindle and as a paperback (it’s sized 8.5″ x 8.5″ and has 56 pages and is printed just with black ink).

Some of the page spreads…

text on a page: This book thinks nobody will like it.
text on one page: Why? Because this book's words have scratches on them. Text on next page: But that is not the only reason.
A page will silly words on it. For example: Sagurp, Goopfernicken, Quazil, and Lobump
A page spread of an illustration of trees. Three birds and a squirrel are on the trees. Two butterflies and a bee fly around.

2 Days of Free Ebooks

covers of five ebooks

I’m launching a new giveaway today, this time without a contest. Today and tomorrow, all five of my ebooks are FREE on Amazon!

Get one, get all! There are 3 novellas, 1 novelette, and 1 collection of short stories and illustrations. A description of each:

Jumble: Stories and Drawings

In this quirky collection, you’ll find 18 short stories and 68 drawings, which are independent of the stories, although a few drawings echo something in the stories, a fine example being an elephant.

Examples of the stories include a man finding joy in a pancake house, a girl interrogated because she picked up the king’s rolling crown, elderly Claude Monet visiting his long-time friend Renoir, a science fiction writer donning a cap of electrodes hooked up to a computer so his dreams could be transcribed, and a group of private detectives hired to research the possibility of reincarnation.

*****

The Minotaur at the Door

Is that an actual minotaur knocking at the front door, or is it somebody pranking Pablo, Miles, and Harry? The three men renting rooms in the house have their doubts about the reality of the creature, but only Pablo seeks to learn more. He wants to meet the minotaur. And find out why he is visiting their neighborhood. Pablo’s journey alternates chapters with the events of Daedalus and his son Icarus, centuries before Pablo. These chapters breathe life and detail into the myth of Asterion, the first minotaur, and Daedalus and Icarus’s imprisonment in the labyrinth. How father and son deal with being stuck in the maze and how they craft a plan to escape.

*****

Other Lives of the Boothbys

Bradley Boothby has no idea why he feels déjà vu when walking by the office building for Rayburn-Turley Publishing. Is he included in one of the publishing company’s books? If so, why? Did an author spy on Bradley to steal his life story, which isn’t all that dramatic? The thoughts are far-fetched, so he dismisses them. But the strange sensation persists, and Bradley finally acts, needing to find if the déjà vu has a foundation. His search touches off consequences for an editor and writer, as they have an impact on each other’s lives.

*****

Don’t Lose Your Head

When you leave for a trip, who knows you’re gone from your house? Family and friends, sure. Neighbors, perhaps. So does the chauffeur who drove you to the airport. Alan Burris takes advantage of working for a car service to know when clients will be away from their houses for several nights. Some houses are easier, since they don’t have a security system — and these houses are on his list for a night visit to steal valuables.

The Resnick house has been on Alan’s list for a while, and now it will be empty for a few nights, since Mr. and Mrs. Resnick are spending a long weekend in Chicago.

But is the house really empty? Alan’s about to find out what it’s like to not be alone in the house, his car, his apartment, and his head. And with another person hanging around, to what length will Alan go to get rid of them?

*****

The Red Tree

While rain falls for weeks, the Engler family invites friends over for an evening of dealing with cabin fever together. And when the spring sun arrives, the Englers celebrate by walking in a wooded park, where they encounter a red tree away from the trail. Guesses abound as to why the tree is red when none of the other trees are.

Life returns to normal for most of the Englers. The father, Calvin, decides the red tree was a sign for him to make changes in his life and property. Changes the family and neighbors don’t quite understand. But some family members can be eccentric, and others learn to roll with it.

A novelette about family, experiencing the mysterious, and letting your imagination loose.

Books On Kindle Unlimited

My books are now available on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. I thought doing this might give readers the chance to try an author who is unknown to them, without having to purchase an ebook or print book. So if you subscribe to KU, please check out my stories.

There are 3 novellas, 1 novelette, and a collection of short stories and drawings.

The novellas:

The Minotaur at the Door

Minotaur at the Door coverIs that an actual minotaur knocking at the front door, or is it somebody pranking Pablo, Miles, and Harry? The three men renting rooms in the house have their doubts about the reality of the creature, but only Pablo seeks to learn more. He wants to meet the minotaur. And find out why he is visiting their neighborhood. Pablo’s journey alternates chapters with the events of Daedalus and his son Icarus, centuries before Pablo. These chapters breathe life and detail into the myth of Asterion, the first minotaur, and Daedalus and Icarus’s imprisonment in the labyrinth. How father and son deal with being stuck in the maze and how they craft a plan to escape.

*****

Other Lives of the Boothbys

Other Lives of the Boothbys coverBradley Boothby has no idea why he feels déjà vu when walking by the office building for Rayburn-Turley Publishing. Is he included in one of the publishing company’s books? If so, why? Did an author spy on Bradley to steal his life story, which isn’t all that dramatic? The thoughts are far-fetched, so he dismisses them. But the strange sensation persists, and Bradley finally acts, needing to find if the déjà vu has a foundation. His search touches off consequences for an editor and writer, as they have an impact on each other’s lives.

*****

Don’t Lose Your Head

Don't Lose Your Head coverWhen you leave for a trip, who knows you’re gone from your house? Family and friends, sure. Neighbors, perhaps.

So does the chauffeur who drove you to the airport. Alan Burris takes advantage of working for a car service to know when clients will be away from their houses for several nights. Some houses are easier, since they don’t have a security system — and these houses are on his list for a night visit to steal valuables.

The Resnick house has been on Alan’s list for a while, and now it will be empty for a few nights, since Mr. and Mrs. Resnick are spending a long weekend in Chicago.

But is the house really empty? Alan’s about to find out what it’s like to not be alone in the house, his car, his apartment, and his head. And with another person hanging around, to what length will Alan go to get rid of them?

*****

The collection of short stories and drawings:

Jumble

cover of Jumble bookIn this quirky collection, you’ll find 18 short stories and 68 drawings, which are independent of the stories, although a few drawings echo something in the stories, a fine example being an elephant.

Examples of the stories include a man finding joy in a pancake house, a girl interrogated because she picked up the king’s rolling crown, elderly Claude Monet visiting his long-time friend Renoir, a science fiction writer donning a cap of electrodes hooked up to a computer so his dreams could be transcribed, and a group of private detectives hired to research the possibility of reincarnation.

The drawings lean toward the cartoonish and simply illustrated, which could be criticized if you’re of the mindset that drawings need to be highly detailed for them to even begin to be considered of decent quality. Actually, one “drawing” is a kind of flowchart and another is a kind of list, so their categorization as drawings is debatable. Yet the nonexistent marketing team for this book argued that saying it contains 66 drawings, 1 flowchart, and 1 list is too clunky to include in the book’s description.

*****

The novellette:

The Red Tree

Red Tree coverWhile rain falls for weeks, the Engler family invites friends over for an evening of dealing with cabin fever together. And when the spring sun arrives, the Englers celebrate by walking in a wooded park, where they encounter a red tree away from the trail. Guesses abound as to why the tree is red when none of the other trees are.

Life returns to normal for most of the Englers. The father, Calvin, decides the red tree was a sign for him to make changes in his life and property. Changes the family and neighbors don’t quite understand. But some family members can be eccentric, and others learn to roll with it.

A story about family, experiencing the mysterious, and letting your imagination loose.

Don’t Lose Your Head

Don't Lose Your Head cover

Several years ago, I published Don’t Lose Your Head, a novella of a ghost haunting a guy. I didn’t promote the book, instead choosing to focus on client work (graphic design) and writing other stories. But I wanted to revisit the novella and give it a more rigorous editorial eye. I’m glad I did, since I ended up chopping off 12,000 words from the story and making it much sharper. I’ve stopped worrying and learned how to enjoy editing. It really can make a difference in a story.

As an excerpt, here’s the first chapter of the novella, to give you a taste. If you like what you read, the book is available on Amazon as an ebook and paperback.

*****

Alan Burris glanced in the car’s rear-view mirror and saw an older version of himself sitting on the back seat. As if the mirror contained magic to reflect how Alan could look in several years, with deeper lines in his forehead and gray hairs blending into darker ones at the sides of his head.

William Resnick had never noticed the resemblance, but his wife picked up on it during her first ride in the black Lincoln sedan.

“Bill,” said Mrs. Resnick, also in the back seat, “he looks just like you!”

“Huh? What?” Bill Resnick looked up from the report’s pages on his lap.

“The driver.” Mrs. Resnick grabbed the headrest of the front passenger seat and leaned forward, saying, “I’m so sorry. I don’t even know your name.” She spoke up, as if the driver was a hard-of-hearing geezer—even though Alan was younger than both of his passengers.

Alan briefly toyed with the idea of asking the male Resnick if he remembered his driver’s name, but doubted that game would go over well. Don’t annoy a client. One of the rules of the biz. Alan introduced himself to the Mrs.

“I’m Laura,” she said. “I’m sorry we didn’t do proper introductions when we got into your car. I don’t know where my mind was.”

“It’s fine, ma’am. Like I said earlier, it’s good to meet you.”

The line deserved repeating. After driving Bill Resnick to and from JFK airport for a couple years, Alan had never seen the Mrs. until now. Her existence was known, due to the wedding band encircling Bill’s finger. Alan had wondered what the wife was like, imagining a woman who dressed in elegant clothes, moved with grace, and performed as a fantastic hostess at dinner parties. The kind of hostess who put the guests at ease and could carry conversations about pretty much anything.

Seeing Laura Resnick this morning answered Alan’s imaginings, along with finding out she wasn’t as attractive as the picture of her in his mind. Not that she was ugly, but Alan had elevated her to a level of beauty he now realized was unfair and unrealistic. But he had been correct about her elegance and grace.

Even though Alan would never discover her hostess skills, he was going to discover the Resnick house’s interior. Having the Mrs. in the Lincoln gave the green light for Alan’s plan—once a general idea and hope—to be placed on the schedule. His patience was about to be rewarded.

Mrs. Resnick turned back to her husband and said, “What’s with the scoff?” She had lowered her voice. “You don’t think he looks like you?”

A small laugh from Resnick, or something resembling a laugh. “Hardly.” Resnick returned to his Very Important Papers.

Alan asked himself, What do you care, Rez? Always at your reports and phone. Acting like you run the fucking world.

Mrs. Resnick pushed on: “I’m serious. If you shaved off your mustache, you two could be twins. Okay, so your hair color’s different, but your faces are quite similar.”

“Laura, would you give it a rest? I need to prepare for this briefing.”

She sat back against the seat, clearly dejected. “But we have, what, two hours on the plane?”

“There’s a ton I have to cover. I don’t want to look like a fool in front of the client.”

“Fine.” Then she spoke louder again, for their supposed geezer driver’s benefit: “Alan, could you turn the radio up? Just a little?”

“No problem, ma’am.”

The NPR reporter, who had been talking about the economies of several European countries, transitioned to a new story about ethnic cleansing in an African country.

Ethnic cleansing, Alan thought. Such a safe, shined-up phrase for the meaning it tries to hide. Like “we’re letting you go.” Like you’ve been sitting outside the boss’s office for hours, a puppy crying to be let out and taken for a walk.

Mrs. Resnick gazed out the window, at the other cars crawling beside them. Was she envisioning herself in another car, yakking it up with another driver, another husband? One who was more attentive? They could’ve talked about their thoughts on ethnic cleansing, doppelgängers, and anything else that came to mind or the radio.
Maybe she would’ve placed her hand on the other husband’s knee and suggested some plans for when he was done with his presentation to the client. With his work wrapped up for the day, the two of them could’ve dined at a fancy restaurant then continued the romance at a fancy hotel. She could’ve said, “I’m glad I finally joined you on a business trip. I know you’re busy during the day, but you’re all mine in the evening.”

Has it been a while since you guys got it on? It’s not like you’ve got kids to tiptoe around.

No kids had ever yelled good-bye to Resnick as he left his house and walked toward the Lincoln during one of Alan’s pick-ups. And no kids had ever yelled hello when Resnick made the reverse journey. No minivan was parked in the Resnick driveway. Instead, a silver Lexus RX. Other times, a red Infiniti Q60. His and hers. Alan had changed his decision several times in trying to match which car belonged to husband and which to wife.

Also, no dog had ever appeared at the door. No finely bred dog barked and wagged its tail to bid its master adieu or hello. All the clues pointed to a married couple living a comfy life in the nice suburb of Westbury with no kids or pets.

*

Earlier this morning, when the Resnicks had left their “we’re quite well off financially and like to show it” type of house, they hadn’t poked at a security system’s keypad. There had been no tell-tale chirp of a system being armed. As both Resnicks had approached Alan, standing by the Lincoln’s open trunk, he had almost leaped with joy.

It’s too good to be true. Wait. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Get the details first.

Alan had greeted them with a perky “good morning,” and loaded their luggage in the trunk. The Resnicks had climbed into the back seat, and Alan shut the door behind them. Then the drive and careful information gathering started.

Alan had said, “Good to finally meet you, Mrs. Resnick.”

“Likewise,” she had replied. “And I want to thank you for taking such good care of my husband. He tends to run a little late.”

A harumph from her worse half.

“It’s true, Bill.” Mrs. Resnick had a soothing voice. Her attention returned to the driver as she said, “But you’ve kept him from missing his flights.”

“All in the job, ma’am,” Alan had said. Modest and polite. Keep it up, soldier.

“And this morning, it’s important not to be late.”

“Why’s that?” Here we go.

“Because I’m going with him, of course,” Mrs. Resnick had said. “We have old friends in Chicago, and it’s been too long since I’ve seen them. Far too long. When Bill told me he’s going there for a meeting, I jumped at the chance. It’ll be a mini vacation. Just from today to Sunday, but it’ll be a chance to relax and sightsee. Right, Bill?”

“Yeah. Right.” Resnick clicked open his briefcase and started shuffling papers.
The papers didn’t keep what Resnick probably saw as the old ball and chain down. Mrs. Resnick said, “Well, I’m looking forward to it.”

Alan pinched his thigh to test if this was a dream. He didn’t wake up.

Time for some justice. Tonight’s the night, Rezzie old boy. It’s finally here.

*

The Lincoln exited on to the ramp toward Kennedy airport and eased to a stop at Terminal 7, underneath the United Airlines sign. Still plenty of time to catch their 10:05 flight.

Alan went into the steps of the departure routine. Clicked on the car’s caution lights. Pressed the button to open the trunk. Got out of the car and was slapped by the noise of the morning rush: a plane taking off, cars honking and jostling for space. Alan opened the back door on the curb side and offered his arm to Mrs. Resnick. She looked surprised for a second then thanked him, grabbed his suit jacket-covered forearm, and pulled herself out of the car. Alan hoisted the luggage from the trunk and set it on the sidewalk.

Alan said to the couple, “I hope you have a wonderful time in Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Resnick.”

Mrs. Resnick flashed her husband a look, and since she presumably didn’t see the signal she anticipated, her hand slipped into her handbag.

Alan smiled. “No need to tip me, ma’am. The limo service is paid through his company.” Alan nodded to Resnick.

She looked relieved as an uncomfortable moment passed. And Alan wasn’t about to tell her that good, ole’ Billy Resnick wasn’t that great of a tipper when replying to Velox Limo’s invoices. The subject of frequent complaints Alan shared with his boss, Hank.

“Let’s go,” William Resnick said and started wheeling his luggage away. Off to check his bag and show the world how it should be run.

“Have a good day,” Mrs. Resnick said to Alan, seemingly embarrassed by her husband’s brusqueness, before she went to join him.

As Alan watched the well-dressed couple walk through the doorway of the airport terminal, he imagined conking William Resnick’s skull with a cartoon hammer, slumping him to the ground so hard that stars and tweeting birds orbited his already swollen head.

###