I Held My Breath as Long as I Could

The good folks over at Bizarrocast have given the audio treatment to my short story, “The Night Light,” taken from my collection I Held My Breath as Long as I Could. 

If you find yourself with a few minutes to spare, stop on by and have a listen. It’s also available on iTunes.

A very big thanks to Chris Boyle and Bizarrocast! This is the first for-pay sale of a story I’ve ever made.

Acceptance. It feels nice.

I Held My Breath as Long as I Could

I Held My Breath as Long as I Could

Because I love October and love the fall and love giving my book away for free, for the next five days, I Held My Breath as Long as I Could is free on Amazon. If you haven’t already picked up a copy, now’s your chance.

I Held My Breath as Long as I Could is my attempt to put together the least marketable collection anyone has ever seen. It’s got flash fiction in between longer, more substantial pieces (I was thinking of the book as a meal with lots of courses and lots of side dishes). It’s got nonfiction personal stories slammed up against absurdist vignettes that make no sense to anyone other than perhaps me and David Lynch. It’s got funny stories, horrifying stories, stories that’ll make you think I’m a giant asshole — really, I practically guarantee you will love at least one story and absolutely hate at least one other one.

In other words, it’s the horror-collection equivalent of putting the collected works of Frank Zappa on shuffle — by which I mean, it’s a great goddamn time.

So a while back, I signed up for Amazon’s Kindle Select program, thinking to take advantage of the ability to give my book away for free for five promotional days. I didn’t like making the book exclusive to Amazon for the required 90 days, but I did it because I wanted to give it away.

After the 90 days expired, I decided no, it’s not the best to go exclusive with an ebook. Since none of these stories even have the imprimatur of being Kindle Singles, what was I thinking? I put it back on Barnes and Noble and iTunes. Then I made it free on iTunes, because it was easy to do.

Now, it seems Amazon has made my book free. Why?

Price-matching! They will match the competitor’s price.

So, while I can’t technically give it away for free on Amazon without being exclusive (and then only five days for everyone who doesn’t have an Amazon Prime membership), I can give it away elsewhere and thereby force Amazon to drop the price.

So now the book is free on iTunes AND Amazon. Who knows how long this will last.

I’ve done the impossible!

(For Nook fans, don’t despair — I’ve got an idea how to get this out there for free for you, as well. It the meantime, it’s still just $0.99 on Barnes and Noble.)

From today, Dec. 15, through Saturday, Dec. 17, the Kindle/Kindle Fire ebook version of I Held My Breath as Long as I Could will be available on Amzaon for free.

Tell your friends. Tell your neighbors. Tell anyone with an Amazon ebook reader.

I’m willing to bet there’s at least one story in there for everyone.

Don’t miss out!

Hello all,

Given the extremely low sales on iTunes and Barnes & Noble, I decided to try an experiment. Over the next 90 days, I Held My Breath as Long as I Could, my collection of 23 short stories, will be available as an ebook exclusively for the Kindle and Kindle Fire (paperback will still be available in lots of places). The reason behind this change is that I’m intrigued by the Kindle Select program, which allows anyone with an Amazon Prime account to borrow my ebook for free. I like the model; it seems like it could actually work out better for me and would-be readers.

We’ll see. If you hate that I’ve gone this direction, say so, and once the exclusivity period expires I’ll go back to offering the ebook everywhere.

In the meantime, if you really want an ebook copy for Nook or iPad / iPhone … email me. Might be something we could work out.

Maybe you’re one of the people who wondered why I Held My Breath as Long as I Could started off with one of the worst stories. Maybe you want to know more about why someone would self-publish. Maybe you’re just bored and have nothing better to do. Whatever the case, the following is an interview examining and explaining the thoughts behind the stories included in an admittedly strange collection.


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Oh, my. This … is cool. I am sitting there, right beside Stephen King, Robert McCammon, and William Peter Blatty. I mean, really?! Are you serious? How cool is that?

Holding a physical copy of my book in my hands was one dream. Being on the shelf next to these guys … that’s another HUGE win. And in time for Halloween, too! Unbelievable!

Thanks to everyone out there who bought and rated my collection!

So happy right now.

It took them 9 days in my case. And that was AFTER I jumped through the hoops of creating a new Apple ID, buying my own block of ISBNs (which I’ll be lucky if I ever use up), and struggled through a day of format wars with their fussy epub validation process. But now I have a book on the iBookstore … which will have a rating just as soon as I meet the minimum number of required ratings to have them actually display a rating.

I’d still be unrated on Barnes and Noble and Amazon if I were waiting to get over five reviews.

Sometime soon, the physical paperback version should be available on Amazon (and elsewhere? that part is murky to me; I signed up for an many channels as I could on, so who knows where this thing is available now). For now, it’s available through the link on the sidebar on CreateSpace’s estore. This is a better place to buy it from in terms of getting money directly to me; Amazon’s store lops another 3 bucks off my take.

Should be getting my own box of books soon. Looking forward to it. I’ve dreamed of opening a box of my own books for so long … if only it meant I was actually validated. Still waiting for the first review from someone I don’t know …

Kindle Paid Short Story -- Top 100!

Well, it has been an emotional week for me. I’m not going to lie. The image here is the highlight: my book actually reached the Top 100 in the Kindle paid short stories list. I was one spot behind Mary Higgins Clark.

And just ahead of Spank Romance Stories.

Seeing that was a real treat. But better than that was the reaction from friends and family, who called and emailed and texted to let me know how they were finding the stories. It wasn’t all good; one sharp-eyed reader wanted to know how the man with no hands can caress a face. Pretty good question. I envisioned him doing so with one of the pulpy heads, but … I could’ve written that a little better.

Opinion is almost universal that the first story is a strange choice for the lead-off position. Fair enough. I did consider starting the collection with “Radiation,” but … I wanted to start with a shorter piece. I just thought it would be more fun and set the tone better.

In other terrible news, I also found out after I published this collection that Chuck Palahniuk’s new book Damned is going to feature a young girl who finds herself unexpectedly trapped in Hell. Yep. That’s right. That is a near-perfect description of the plot of “Esther’s Prayer,” a short story I wrote originally on this site in February under the title “At Night in the Cottage.” Guess I’ll have to take back some of those things I said about Stephen King’s Under the Dome being too similar in plot to The Simpsons movie. Also looked it up, and it looks like, even if I did publish first, he talked about his book and what it was about in 2010.

I’ve been scooped not only by a pro, but by one I am a fan of. Kind of a bummer.

Chuck P., if you read this, I promise not to be upset by this bump of hands in the popcorn bucket of story ideas if you aren’t. I swear, I did not hear that story from you; it’s based on a dream I had earlier this year. I expect when I read your book, I’ll find your version vastly different than mine, anyway. You say you went Judy Blume/Breakfast Club, and I think that’s pretty different from what I did. Maybe there’s room for two girl-in-Hell stories in this world. Here’s hoping.

A few notes on distribution: iTunes still has yet to publish the book (what gives, man?), no copies have yet sold on Barnes & Noble, and my Kindle version is unsearchable by category, which pretty much makes it unfindable. But I’m hoping these problems work themselves out eventually. I’m prepping a physical copy to be published in the coming weeks, so readers who prefer something they can hold need not be left behind.

But as far as those of you who are reading this now and have purchased it, I wanted to say a big THANK YOU! This week has been a far bigger success than I expected.

Thank you all for being awesome and reading my book!!!!

Feel free to comment away below and let me know what you liked and didn’t like. I want to hear it all!

(also, if you have read it already, review it on or Amazon or wherever! say whatever you like, I don’t care; be honest! I love seeing reviews appear!)