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1st 500 Words: “The Holiday Office Party” by Scott Rowan

FIRST 500-WORD SAMPLE: “The Holiday Office Party”
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: The following story is fictional. Any similarity to any person,
company, event or circumstance is merely coincidental.

“The Holiday Office Party”
by Scott Rowan

The police report began:
Officer Thomas and Officer Jones were the first respondents to
a 911 call at Trident Publishing. Upon entering the office,
Officer Thomas was immediately struck in the face with an
unknown object, later identified as a container of rice. Two
individuals fighting at the scene appeared to be injured. Orders
to remain calm were ignored and the physical confrontation
between the group of men and women continued uninterrupted.
Officer Thomas’ wounds were treated later. There is strong
suspicion that alcohol was involved. . . .

“I’m not fucking around, people!” Max yelled at his staff seated at the conference room table.

It was common knowledge at Trident Publishing that Max wasn’t a man given to either make or recognize the existence of jokes. So he was simply making another obvious statement, which was something else he was prone to do. “This is fourth quarter, people! Fucking fourth quarter! We have to increase sales immediately!”

“Agreed.” The disembodied voice of Peter came from the speakerphone in the middle
of the table. The Director of Sales, Peter was constantly on the road meeting with buyers.

“Fucking fourth quarter! Ideas, people!”

Silence filled the room much like the warehouse was filled with unsold books.
“We could make posters for stores,” Susan ventured forth, her words tiptoeing on the
thin ice of the moment. Susan was two years out of college and had not yet learned that her biggest fault was speaking up when she should remain silent. Her second biggest was being silent when she should speak.

“Posters? That won’t do shit!” Max didn’t even look at Susan; his only physical
indication of her existence was a dismissive wave of his hand through the air. “Steve,

The Director of Marketing, Steve was in charge of all publicity and marketing. It was
his department’s responsibility to convince 230 million American consumers that they wanted to buy books that they, apparently, didn’t.

“Got two national radio interviews next week. Others are being booked. The only
thing we haven’t done is a satellite television tour.”

“How much?” Max demanded.

“About twelve thousand.”

“Shit no!”

Steve sat back in his chair and returned his attention to noticing how Susan’s sweater
fell so attractively between her perfect B-cup breasts. Susan crossed her arms to ward off Steve’s stare. Again.

“We could eblast people an HTML email about our titles,” Steve tried again, hiding
his apathy.

“Great idea!” Max said, something resembling a smile crawling across his face.

“Agreed,” said the speakerphone.

“Who do we eblast? Where do we get the list of email addresses?” Max asked.

“We can buy lists. Costs about ten grand for a million email addresses.”

“How many do we need to be successful?”

“A successful eblast campaign yields less than one-tenth of one percent.”

“That’s less than ten thousand books. What if we increase the number of people we

“Numbers increase, sure.” Steve shrugged. “So does the cost.”

“Forget it.”

Everyone in the room fell silent.

The speakerphone said nothing.


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