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Marble on a Table: A Novel — Paperback


Could you commit an act you are totally against? Could you watch someone else do it? Rasmus and Alli must find the answers.

3 in stock


Critics reviews

“… an enjoyable and immersive reading experience, what with its lively dialogue, vivid cityscape, and impressive emotional range.”
– IndieReader

“The chemistry between the two is undeniable. … a must-read novel for romance enthusiasts who enjoy a heavy layer of plot.”
– Readers’ Favorite 5-star review

Book synopsis

Rasmus Smith is a New Yorker looking for a way out. Alli is a newcomer seeking a way in.

They crash into each other and are spun in the opposite direction. To find their way, Rasmus and Alli try to change each other. If they succeed, who will they become? It’s a question they avoid up until the shocking moment when they must battle with who they used to be.

Product details

  • Publisher: The Writing Thing Press
  • Paperback: 333 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0-578-47870-8
  • Product Dimensions: 5.25 x 8.0 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pound

About the author

Eugene Havens worked as a media writer in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco for over twenty years. He holds a master’s degree in fiction writing and is the author of Marble on a Table: A Novel. He lives in southern Oregon with his wife and four children.

Excerpt from the novel

LOVE more not less, she had told me. I couldn’t agree more, I had replied. We were talking about different things. I meant us. She meant …

Here was how it happened. I let her down in irreparable ways. In return, she showed me something about this world that I didn’t want to see. It was the problem I couldn’t face, but later she couldn’t either.

In a city of eight million people, we should never have met. I was in the process of moving on in a few ways. She was a reason to remain here, to keep trying. Only, she wanted me to believe her. I wanted her to believe in me. But were either possible?

Where do you go when nothing is really possible anymore? What do you do?

It doesn’t begin with her, but with Paul. She and I would have stayed strangers if not for him. No, without the everyday disaster that Paul invited me into, I wouldn’t have found the idea that broke my routine, the last-ditch effort that liberated me, betrayed me, and sent me one late New York winter to the depths and heights.

Paul called me with a little problem. It was a Wednesday morning many years ago, a few years before www and email would connect an unemployed person, sitting in an apartment, to the greater world. In 1995, a ringing telephone I picked up eagerly. I kept my voice calm while agreeing to come down to Paul’s office as soon as possible. I couldn’t believe my luck. I would make money this week.

We had the misfortune, some might say, of filming television commercials for a living. The reply one might give, they were more fun to make than to watch. In this case, the process was, in Paul’s words, a nightmare.

For a TV commercial shooting next week (“early next week, early”), Paul found himself without a critical element, the location. The ad script called for an upscale restaurant. It was gone. His staff forgot to confirm the place, forgot to send a check, some error that was frustratingly preventable. Production work was inherently expensive. Without a new location being found quickly, the project would be postponed at great cost to Paul’s company.

Before Paul could finish explaining, I picked up the desk phone, the primary instrument of a commercial producer. I made calls to city restaurants on an industry locations list, and to others that weren’t. I scouted the finalists in person, hopping every train system in the tristate area.

Soon it was Friday, deadline day. Paul stood in a familiar spot beside the cubicle he had parked me in on Wednesday. We were about to have this conversation again. I shuddered.

“You want me to give you good news,” I said.

“How’d you guess,” he said. I didn’t reply. “I’m really unhappy about this,” he continued.

“I found a replacement you seem to like.”

“That we can’t afford.”

“I found four total.”

“What are you doing to make this happen?”

“About your first choice? Trying to talk him down.”


“This restaurant is twenty grand more than the original you lost.

Was lost,” I added, diplomatically. Paul drummed the cubicle wall with his thumb. “Will you view the others?”

Paul took a stack of faxes from my desk. It was 1995. The faxes were images of various interiors sent over by restaurant managers. “This one. It’s the best.” He waved a grainy page of the expensive replacement, proud of himself for finding it.

“It was on-budget,” I said. “We went to sign. They said the price list was outdated. You and I know it’s not true, but what can I …”

“You struck out,” Paul interrupted. “I can’t pay for strikeouts.”

Hearing this verdict, I felt myself get up. “Do I have some pay coming?”

“I called the best I know at this: Rasmus Smith. You said you’d deliver.”

“You have replacements. Problem solved.”

He handed me the fax. “We need this one.”

“You mean Erik?” It was his director. “Can you explain it fell

“His shot ideas are based on this location.” Paul stared at me, hoping a light would come on, that I’d get it finally.

I dropped the fax on the desk. “This is a little overwhelming.” “I’m sure it is. But I pay for results.”

Paul’s office was hearing it all. “This is crazy,” I said. “A restaurant is a restaurant. You do see that.”

“I do see,” Paul said. “You came in here to work a job and take
my money. That’s not production, and you know it. We lock down details. It’s what a producer is paid for. We need miracles, not effort.”

“I think I did a good job.”

“You let that restaurant manager jack the price. Did you invent other bids that we were considering? Make him nervous?”

“I cracked the whip, believe me. The manager forgot his place was listed for location use. They don’t care.”

“I’m in a bind,” Paul admitted. His look went from serious to severe.

I took my overcoat while he watched. “What.”

“If I don’t get this restaurant, I lose Erik. The agency that hired us skips. I have to lay people off.” A head turned in a nearby cubicle.

I buttoned my coat. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Say you’ll fix it.”

“Did you have to show that restaurant to Erik? He would’ve picked a different one.”

“I found this out today. Erik has a better offer and will use this restaurant thing as an excuse to back out of my job.”

I snatched up my bag from the desk. “I say yes to a small project for rent. Now your company’s on my shoulders?”

Paul stood at my cubicle, silent now. His frown was slightly pathetic. The worried girl in the next cubicle looked over again.

© 2022 Eugene Havens


The Writing Thing Press

The Writing Thing Press is an independent literary press that writes and publishes fiction, nonfiction, and memoir in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats. We believe reading, in its highest form, is a process of discovery. We seek not only to meet current expectations but to create new ones for readers.


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