Free the Short Story 10

Reprinted by permission of Ray Abernathy.  Ray's website is available at:

For the next 10 days — May 20 through May 29 — visitors to this page will be able to take advantage of one of the greatest literary bargains of the 21st Century: the entire contents of my new short story collection, Here and There, Now and Then, absolutely FREE. You’ll have to re-visit faithfully every day, because each of the stories will be posted for one day and one day only. All you have to do is click on “free sample” above the book cover on this home page, download, read, and then you are free (urged, actually) to share it with your friends and family, either via the internet or by other methods (several people have already told me they are going to save them for stocking stuffers at Christmas).

Why am I doing this? I’ve been shopping these stories around to magazines as I completed them over the past two years, but no takers. So I decided to self-publish them as a collection and make them available through this blog and through Still no takers. Several of the stories then visited me in the middle of the night to tell me they were tired of sitting on a virtual bookshelf and gathering dust unread. One of them was carrying a picket sign that shouted, “Free the Short Story 10.” They said they were humiliated and frustrated and were calling on all the stories in the book to sit down in my bedroom until people started reading them.

On the third night of the sit-in, I arose from the dead (of night) and cajoled all 10 of the stories into the bathroom where we could talk without waking my wife, who was beginning to get quite testy about all the chattering going on (”I am a bestseller, NY Time Best Seller …. I should be a candidate for a National Book Award …. I mean, have you read Lydia Davis’ insipid latest … I don’t even care whether someone buys us, I just want to be read”).

“OK, chumps,” I said, “Whaddaya want me to do? I was in labor 20, 25 hours with each one of you and now you’re paying me back with this stuff.” Intrigue on the Acela Express had what I thought was, well, an intriguing suggestion: “Why not go on Oprah and announce that for a period of time you are giving us away, FREE, like that novelist did a couple of months ago. She gave away about a million books, then she sold about a million.” “Yeah,” The Waitress chimed in, “it created buzz, you buffoon.” The rest of the stories started chanting, “Yes, we buzz … Yes, we buzz.” I needed some sleep and so I gave in and said, “OK, OK, I’ll give it a try, but if Oprah goes for it and we decide to give you away, you’re on your own.”

I called Oprah and chatted her up, but she said she didn’t promote short story collections, only novels and memoirs and non-fiction. I called Regis, then Barbara, then Matt, then Dianne. Zippo. So I decided to try the giveway gimmick on my own and here we are, with me imploring each one of you to take at least one of these ingrate stories off my hands. Read them and if you like one of them (or several of them), send them to people on your personal elist, sort of a literary chain letter.

Working together, I know we can Free the Short Story 10 and find homes for all these little creatures, perhaps a nice literary magazine, a short story contest, a movie contract (they really are well-behaved and quite avanced for their ages). Maybe we can actually create some buzz and people will visit From the Left Bank of the Potomac and pay the bounty for the entire family, or even buy my companion novel, Dirty Billy.

Back when I was doing sit-ins, I never dreamed a bunch of snot-nosed kids like this would stage one on me. But I have to say I’ve been impressed with their determination and optimism and they’ve increased mine and maybe they will increase yours. I think that maybe we are the ones we’ve been waiting for …..


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