Thursday, March 31, 2011

"End of Turn," flash fiction by Alain Gomez

"General, the troops are ready."

"Thank you, captain.  The cannon?"

"Ready and waiting, General."

"Excellent."  The general breathed in the crisp morning air.  "It smells like battle, eh?"

"Yes, sir."

The wind made the flags whip and crack in the air.  In the distance, a line of enemy troops appeared.  They slowly marched toward their own formations.

Drums could be heard.

Battle cries were made.

The enemy was closer now.  Within firing range.

"General, should I order the troops to fire?"

"No, not yet."

"Not yet?!  With all due respect, sir, the enemy will be on us.  What are we waiting for?"

"The end of the turn."

"JAKE! I am not going to ask you again to take out the garbage!"

"Just one second, mom!"

"No, you pause that computer game right now!"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Author interview: Daphne Coleridge

How did you become interested in short stories?
I became interested in writing short stories after I was invited to contribute a short horror story to the The KUF Book of Halloween Horrors on Kindle Users Forum (UK). I loved the challenge of developing characters and a dramatic scenario sufficiently to engage the interest of the reader in a short piece of prose.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile? Why?
Short stories, at their best, are little jewels capable of introducing a diverting story, a moral dilemma or an informative narrative in a small package that will attract even readers with very little time. The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a good example of a classic short story with a powerful impact.

What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
Even more than my romantic novellas, I have found my short mystery stories have established a momentum of their own: readers enjoy an engaging short story.

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you?
To date, no negative experiences. I have put up banners on Kindle Boards promoting my short stories and they have been followed by steady sales.

Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story? Why or why not?
Very short stories (I have read and enjoyed some of only a hundred words) should be put in a little collection at this price. A longer story of perhaps 12000 words would stand alone. When it comes to writing, size definitely isn’t everything: if the stories are entertaining or thought provoking the reader will be enjoying value for money.

Check out Daphne's short stories:
Three Mysteries on Amazon
The Claresby Mystery on Amazon

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Concept behind Doctor Fleischer, a short story by Alain Gomez



Doctor Fleischer is part two of my Space Hotel Series.  I originally wrote Celebrity Space (part one) to be a standalone story.  I had never written sci-fi before, I was still experimenting with short stories... I had no idea what I was doing, basically.  But after I finished Celebrity Space, I really liked how some of the characters turned out; particularly the doctor.

That's when I got the idea to make a series.  Every story in the Space Hotel Series is standalone.  They all make sense plot-wise by themselves.  But they all revolve around the same "concept" of time and location.  So, combined, the reader will get more and more of an idea about how far the aliens have infiltrated and what their goals are.  At least, that's what I'm hoping to achieve.

I have at least three more stories planned for this series.  Hotel Moonwalk will be the next one and will be released very soon (if not already by the time this blog posts).  The other two I already have outlined and will begin work on them shortly.



Monday, March 28, 2011

Author interview: Chrissy Olinger

How did you become interested in short stories?
I wrote shorts ages ago, as an undergrad, but hadn't done much with novella and longer-short length in ages. I decided to do something fun, light, and easy to dip my toe into the amazon kindle-direct market.  My Boyfriend's Back was the result.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
For me, they are fun.  And since self publishing has taken off, I think the publication of shorts, novellas, and even collections is a terrific way to keep yourself active.  Even more importantly, though, I find a lot of us (myself definitely included) love that little punch of pleasure.  I can sit and blow through something in a single sitting, or read a novella in two parts-- maybe a subway ride into Boston for the first half, and a satisfying finsih on the ride home.  Even a quick read on a Sunday afternoon has something very comfortable in it.  I almost think of shorts
and novellas as "literary comfort food."

What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
Getting mentioned here and there helped me, but I'm also fairly new at the game.  It's been fascinating to be in the driver's seat for a change, and also to see how sales spike and slow.  I did get mentioned by lots of friends on facebook, twitter, and a few forums.  But even better?  I'm getting clever about how to FIND shorts and novellas for myself! Honestly I am an absolute Amazon HOUND.  I check the top 100 sellers a few times a week either on the web or from my kindle.  Since I am active in a few writing communities, and I blog with other writers-- I get a lot of word of mouth, too.  We interview authors on Fictionistas and LOVE to recommend give-aways or spread word on titles (fictionistas.blogspot.com).  I watch the Kindle Boards, too (kindleboards.com).  There are so many cool blogs, facebook feeds, and even twitter feeds out there you can find titles really easily.

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you?
I did send out emails to a few blogs and haven't seen much traffic as a result.  So far I have done no paid advertising, since this was my maiden flight, and I am trying to learn from this experience.  I do have a full novel coming out in a few months, and hope to take what I learned to inform that process.  My plan at this point is to purchase some ads for my novel (Echo's Lyric, a young adult fantasy.)

Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short
story?  Why or why not?

I do.  I wish Amazon had a distinction between shorts/novellas and novels. I honestly believe a lot of readers get excited and go on "download safari," which I'm guilty of myself.  But sometimes they can click without realizing they are getting a short.  I was very deliberate about putting something in my blurb for that reason.  But come on-- a short, quick, lovely little read for under a buck?  BARGAIN!


Check out Chrissy's short story:
On Amazon
Or click here to check out her homepage

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Inspection," flash fiction by Alain Gomez

"It could use some fixing up, of course."

"They usually do," she observed cynically.

"It's a great location, though.  The water and power is all intact."

"The power lines are ancient.  I could never run my equipment from them!"

"But that's nothing if you consider all the potential.  Such a low price too!"

"I'll pass.  Where's the next place on your list?"

"It's right next door.  Cute little place called Mars.  You'll love this one, I'm sure."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Author interview: Joel Arnold

How did you become interested in short stories?
I've always enjoyed short stories. I've subscribed to various magazines featuring short stories for most of my life; magazines like Weird Tales, Twilight Zone Magazine, The Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine...While I also read a lot of novels, short stories pack their own particular kind of punch as well as convey ideas in ways a novel can't.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
Definitely. Writing short stories is a great way to explore different ideas, themes, styles and characters without committing to writing an entire novel. For beginning writers, it's a great way to see if you really enjoy writing; a way to accomplish something with a shorter time commitment. And a short story from an experienced writer can be something sublime.


What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
I've announced the solo short stories that I have for sale in ebook form on places like Kindle Boards, Nook Boards, Mobile Reads, the Amazon message boards, etc. I think it all works in a cumulative way.

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you?
I sincerely regret drawing the names of my stories on my chest with Sharpie markers and running naked down the highways yelling 'Buy! Buy! Buy!' Not recommended. Also, did you know that the ink from Sharpies is permanent?

Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story?  Why or why not?
Yes, I do. 99 cents for between 10 minutes to an hour of reading pleasure? Compare that to a $2 cup of regular coffee, or a Snickers, or a Coke. Plus, that short story is (at least it should be!) much more mentally stimulating, and it's still pretty darn cheap entertainment. Just last week I spent $18 to see a movie at a theater alone + get a soda and candy. And that doesn't count the gas it took me to drive there.


Check out Joel's short story:
On Amazon
On Smashwords

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Short Story Project continues with author interviews

I've really been enjoying how The Short Story Project has turned out.  I like seeing such a wide range of topics written about using the short story form.  It goes to show that short stories are just as diverse as the novel.  Also, as many of the guest authors have pointed out, they allow you to experiment with characters and ideas in ways that could not have been done in a longer work.

The Short Story Project is going to continue with guest author interviews.  Some of the authors were featured before and some are new; all of them have interesting insights.  They were all asked five questions.  The purpose of these interviews is to provide a resource for old and new short story authors.  One of the best ways to improve one's writing is to learn from others.

The interviews will start tomorrow (3/26/11).  If you've been thinking about dabbling in short stories, perhaps these interviews will convince you to take the plunge; they're really not as neglected by the public as some choose to think.  If you already write stories, use the interviews as a tool.  All of the authors were asked to share what has worked for them when promoting short stories.  Many of them have some very good tips.

Read the original Short Story Project post

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Border Crossing by Shana Hammaker



BORDER CROSSING is book three in Shana Hammaker's short thriller series Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011.

Michael Connally had it coming.

Mike was a San Diego native with a winning smile and a personal charm both politicians and gigolos would envy. But Mike wasn't any kind of whore. He preferred the money and independence afforded him by smuggling guns across the border to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel.

With that independence Mike pursued his true love: finding girls for his doll collection.

At the beginning of BORDER CROSSING we meet Julie, a feisty blonde who was by far Mike's favorite doll. Julie vowed to take revenge on Mike, and despite the fact that when the story opens she was nothing but a decapitated head hidden in Mike's trunk, Julie will get her revenge.

WARNING: BORDER CROSSING is a gruesome paranormal revenge thriller that will appeal to people who believe the sword beats the hell out of the pen in a real-world fight. If you prefer to solve your differences civilly, over a cup of tea perhaps, you might not enjoy Julie's bloody triumph that is the finale of BORDER CROSSING.

Buy Now:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Daily Cheap Reads

Starting at 10pm CT on 3/22, Celebrity Space will be featured on DailyCheapReads.com.  The feature will be up for 24 hours and will end on 3/23.

I was very excited when Paula, the site owner, told me my short story would be posted.  This site is well known for its large following of readers/potential buyers.  In order to have a novel posted, the book must:

-Be under $5
-Have 5 substantive reviews
-No erotica

However, Paula informed me that she puts short stories on a different track than novels.  It takes far less time to have your short story posted and you don't have to have as many reviews (Celebrity Space did have 5 though).

I think this will be an interesting study marketing-wise.  Is the general public interested in trying short stories?  Paula told me that she doesn't have a whole lot of sci-fi readers, but she is going to add an intro blurb mentioning to people that a short story could be a perfect way to "test the waters."  So we'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Battle for Moscow, Idaho by Edward Robertson



Edward's views on the short story genre:
Sometimes I write funny. Sometimes I write dark. And sometimes it's both--but whatever the case, I always try to wrap it around a muscular, adventurous plot. A writer's particular style won't always resonate with everyone. But you can at least give them a story strong enough to make it worth their time. That's what I shoot for.

Short stories can do things novels can't. Novels are great: you get to spend a lot of time with characters and worlds you can fall in love with. But short stories can push the limits. They can jump into the brain of a guy you'd hate to spend 300 pages with, but can be fascinated by over 10. And length--one of these stories is a flash piece just 500 words. Another is a Twitter-length story of a whopping 25 words. Pieces that small can make you reconsider the very way stories work. For traditional-length pieces, like the other four here, they can provide a sharp emotional stab with just a few minutes' reading.

Summary of this work:
"The Battle for Moscow, Idaho" follows a guerrilla fighter troubled with memory loss after alien-aided rebels assault his town. Appearing in a recent shared-universe anthology of steampunk-tinged alternate history, "The Inspiration of Philocrates" follows four Greek soldiers and philosophers on a mission to kidnap a key scientist from cold war rival Egypt. And in "The Mayor of Mars," two thugs steal, intimidate, and blackmail to get a crook elected to Martian office. Three other stories round out this collection of fantasy and science fiction.

Buy now:


Monday, March 21, 2011

The actual short story vs. the general short story

I think this is something that needs clearing up.

The actual definition of a short story is a work that is under 10,000 words.  Some would argue 8,000 is the cap.  Point being, there is a limit to how long the work can be.  This, in turn, creates a certain style of writing.  The actual short story is one of the major forms of literary fiction.

With the rise in e-books, I think it is important to be aware of the general short story.  While an author may know the differences between flash fiction, short stories, novellas and novels, the average reader does not.  Many people will classify anything that is shorter than a novel as a "short story" even if it is a 30,000 word novella.

Therefore, this is something for both authors and readers to consider.  Although you may have authored a wonderful novella, "short story" might be a term that more readers would understand.  As for the readers, be aware that "short story" could mean a wide range of story lengths.  While you may not like 500 word pieces of flash fiction, a 30,000 word novella could just be up your ally.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Leave No Wake by Joel Arnold



Why Joel enjoys writing in this genre:
The short story is a great way to explore an idea, develop a character, or experiment with form (sometimes all three) in a short amount of time. While a novel is a journey, a short story can be a side trip, pit stop or even the destination itself. That doesn't mean it's easy to write; you need to pack a lot of punch into a somewhat limited space, and that takes time and effort to do well. And when a short story is done well, it can be a very satisfying experience for both the reader and the writer.

Summary of "Leave No Wake":
Meet Mr. Varney and Mr. Johnson, two old men who run the Arrow Point Resort in central Minnesota. Situated on a chain of lakes, this quaint resort offers the usual amenities; shuffleboard, night crawlers, cabins for rent, and gas for passing boaters. Best of all, they offer the things that money can't buy; the most beautiful sunsets west of the Mississippi, the smells of campfires and motor boat exhaust, the songs of loons and frogs in the night. Simple, yet charming memories that stick with a person long after they've gone back home.

But the peacefulness of the Arrow Point Resort is broken when stripper Gina Veale checks in and her ex-boyfriend comes looking for her. When Benny, the foul-mouthed turtle boy, finds her body, the two elderly resort owners realize the case may not be as cut and dried as it seems. They want to make sure the right person is put in jail, even if it means risking their lives.

Leave No Wake originally appeared in the Nodin Press anthology RESORT TO MURDER alongside stories by best-selling authors such as William Kent Krueger, Ellen Hart, and David Housewright.

Please join author Joel Arnold as he takes you on a trip up north in this short story where even the prettiest of waters still have a bit of chill left in them.

Buy now:


Saturday, March 19, 2011

"The Showdown," flash fiction by Alain Gomez

The sun was hot and directly overhead.  Must be noon.  Peters would be here any minute now.  There was a jingle of spurs, a figure stepped out from an alley.  The townsfolk saw them and fled indoors.  Windows were bolted shut.

He spat tobacco juice.  "I didn't think you would come, Clancy."

"You thought wrong, Peters."

Peters scoffed and looked around casually.  "I guess so.  You don't strike me as fightin' man."

Clancy clenched and unclenched his fists.  "When a man comes home to find his wife murdered, things can change."

Peters pulled out some more chewing tobacco, like he had all the time in the world.  "You ready to die, Clancy?"

Clancy pulled his pistol out of its holster as fast as he possibly could.  Two gunshots echoed through the town.  Clancy laughed as he looked at Peters.  He felt a glorious moment of victory.  Then dropped to his knees and collapsed in the dust.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Terrifying Tales for 2011 by Shana Hammaker



About this author:

My name is Shana Hammaker, and this year I have given myself a year-long literary challenge I like to call Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011.  The idea? I write (and publish on the Kindle, and hopefully soon also the Nook) a different short thriller every month for the whole year.

Why write short stories?:
Why am I doing this? Because I love to read and write thrillers. And because like you, I agree that ereaders are the ideal vehicle for resurrecting the short story as a viable literary form. As a lifelong avid reader I understand that sometimes the greatest thing in the world is to fall into an epic novel and live there for awhile.  But I also know that sometimes it's better, or simply more fun, to dip your toes into something short and brutal.

About January and February's tales of horror:


Charlie
When Alex fantasized about buying her dream home, she didn’t imagine it would include a regiment of reappearing corpses.

But that’s exactly what she got.

In CHARLIE, Alex Hutchinson buys the home she hopes she and her fiancé will start a family in. But unfortunately for her, family bliss isn’t in the cards. Instead she gets Charlie, the corpse who won’t stay away.

What’s a girl to do? Call the cops? Bury the bothersome stiff in the basement? Run away to Spain? Alex tries a little of everything as her rotting, unwanted visitor pops in with ever-increasing frequency and the fabric of her once-tidy life unravels around her.

CHARLIE is Book One of Shana Hammaker's monthly serial
Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011.

CHARLIE is author Shana Hammaker’s debut short thriller.

North of Forks
Twenty-year-old Washington native Sara Cullen had a vampire problem.

And before you even ask, NO she's not one of THOSE Cullens. But try telling that to the legions of lost bloodsuckers who wandered into her hometown of Beaver because they missed the exit for Forks. Vampires can be so stupid.

But soon another monster came to town that made the star struck vampires look like cute defenseless puppies. I'm talking about zombies. The zombie plague swept into, and quickly overwhelmed, Sara’s small town. Within days normal life ended. Within weeks there were more ghouls than humans. Finally, a mere three months after the start of the plague, Sara and her friend Jessie Sparks were the only live people left in their corner of Washington.

Or so they thought. But then a handsome stranger wandered into town, and everything Sara and Jessie thought they knew about life in post-zombie-apocalypse Beaver turned upside down.

NORTH OF FORKS is Book Two in Shana Hammaker's short thriller series Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011.

Buy now:




Thursday, March 17, 2011

What is flash fiction?

What exactly is flash fiction?  I know the definition:  "a story under 1000 words."  But that explains nothing.  How does it differ from the short story?  Is it fair to have similar standards for short stories and flash fiction?  Should I be upset when I know nothing about the characters in a flash fiction story?  Or is that part of the experience?

Well, I can't believe that the reader should feel nothing about the characters in flash fiction.  I do believe that is the challenge the author has to face.  Earnest Hemingway's immortal six-word flash comes to mind:  "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."  I mean, wow.  Powerful stuff.  If only I could sell something like that for 99 cents.

Yes, I do believe I have too many questions about flash fiction and not enough answers.  When this happens, I have a tendency to become experimental.  So just a heads up, folks, I may occasionally be posting a flash fiction story on this blog.  It's the only way to figure out what they're all about.  Feel free to rip any of them to shreds!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Revenge through Landscaping: Stories by E.N. Larsen



A little bit about E.N. Larsen and his views on short stories:
I've been writing short stories ever since I was in junior high school. I tried to write novels (mainly thrillers), but it was so painful I gave up. Stories just really work for me. Probably because they give me the ability to write about ordinary people and ordinary happenings. I was never good with the scope of novels. And writing short stories is a lot of fun.

About this work:
A second volume of funny, quirky short stories by E.N. Larsen.

Buy now:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

After the Happily Ever After

“The very essence of romance is uncertainty.” –Oscar Wilde

With the dawn of this new Age of Information, we seem to be plagued by a very nagging sort of question:  how much information do I really want to know?  Now, depending on the topic, the answer to this question can be as vague or specific as one likes.  Science, for example, must be as exact as humanly possible.  No detail should be overlooked, no stone unturned; repetition of the same tired train of thought is absolutely vital for success in the scientific arena. 

Emotions, on the other hand, are a subject so vague and incomprehensive that droves of poets have declared it impossible to fully describe this topic in prose.  So why then do we try so hard to quantify that which is, by our own admission, beyond words?  It is this writer’s opinion that a story (albeit a book, tv show, movie, etc…) loses its value when attempts are made to go beyond the “happily ever after.”
            
As Oscar Wilde so aptly said “the very essence of romance is uncertainty.”  Human nature seems to demand that we desire that which we do not have.  On a very shallow level, we have a tendency to lust after a bigger house or a nicer car.  This tendency, however, will sometimes seep over into more personal matters.  A romance novel, whether it is Pride and Prejudice or a cheap “smut” you buy at a market, illustrates for us that which most do not have.  The majority of us would love to be perused by a dashing and handsome man (it also helps if he’s disgustingly rich) or be desperately trying to win the hand of a breathtakingly beautiful lady.  The excitement is in the fantasy of the chase.
            
Once the chase is completed and the conquest made, what really happens after the happily ever after?  On the most practical level: real life.  Jane Austen’s characters from Pride and Prejudice, Darcy and Elizabeth, probably had a happy marriage while leading comparatively normal lives.  But who wants to know that?  The intrigue of their romance rests entirely on the wildness of the reader’s imagination. 

Attacking a vague concept such as love with scientific precision and repetition will result in the two canceling each other out.  Describing ad nauseam every detail of a fictional character’s post happily ever after life will quickly push their story from the unattainable to the attainable.  We read and watch fiction as a way to escape the rigors of normal life.  If the fictional characters have lives that start to uncomfortably resemble our own, why even bother?  A far more productive use of time would be to read real life accounts from the non-fiction section; then we may at least learn from their experiences.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Halloween Sky and Other Nightmares by Robin Morris



About Robin Morris and why she likes the short story genre:
Hi, my name is Robin Reed. My horror stories are published under the name Robin Morris to differentiate them from my other writing. I have always enjoyed both writing and reading short stories.  For the reader, they provide an intense experience that concentrates on the most important event in a character's life. For the writer, they demand careful placement of every word so that nothing is in the story that doesn't need to be there.

About this work:
Halloween Sky and Other Nightmares is a collection of stories written over more than twenty years. Some are based on things that happened to me, and some just appeared in my brain with no known origin. It is currently an ebook only and can be purchased at Amazon.com or Smashwords.com.

Buy now:


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Concept behind "The Sacrifice," a short story by Alain Gomez



This is my very first short story and I wrote it originally for a Spanish class.  So, no, despite my last name, I am not fluent in Spanish.  But I can read/write Spanish somewhat.  I can also ask for directions in Spanish speaking countries and have a 60% chance of ending up where they told me to go.

"The Sacrifice" is a very simple story for two reasons.  The first is that I had never tried to write a short story before.  The second reason is that it was first written in a language where I have a very small vocabulary.  With these things in mind, I think I did a pretty dang good job.

Surprisingly, I have sold a handful of the Spanish version of this story, La Ofrenda, on B&N.  I've yet to sell any of my other short stories on that site.  This has made me contemplate translating some of my other works into Spanish and see what comes of it.  Has anyone else tried this?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dating My Vibrator and other true fiction by Suzanne Tyrpak



About Suzanne Tyrpak and why she enjoys short stories:
I’ve written several novels, and have one published right now, Vestal Virgin, suspense in ancient Rome. But when I went through a divorce a few years ago, I didn’t have the time or energy to write novels—especially since most of my novels are historical and require a lot of research. But I did have time to write short stories. Writing them was my therapy. I like the form, because I can focus on one topic, one or two characters, and I can play around with language in ways I might not in a novel. I recommend reading short stories, because you can sit down and read one quickly—and be satisfied. Some of my favorite authors write short stories: Elizabeth Engstrom, Raymond Carver, Flanney O’Connor. There are all kinds of short stories around, from realistic to dark suspense, romance to fantasy. It’s a great way for writers to hone their craft, and I think they’re fun to read.

Summary of this work:
Dating My Vibrator and other true fiction is a collection of nine true and almost true short stories all based (unfortunately) on my own experience. After nineteen years of marriage I was thrust into a brave new world of dating: online, offline, standing in line, listening to lines. And I have survived to tell these tales. Dating, divorce, desperation—all that good stuff. CAUTION: if you’re contemplating divorce, these stories may convince you to consider marriage counseling. If you’re out there dating, chances are you will relate. OMG! Here’s a scary thought: maybe you’ve met some of these guys. Names have been changed to protect the guilty. Joe Konrath gave it 5 stars and says, “Pure Comedic Brilliance.”

Buy now:


Friday, March 11, 2011

"Would 'The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson be six times better if it was six times the length?"

Before you read this blog post, please take the time to read The Lottery if you have not already.  It takes only a few minutes to read and you will not regret the time spent, I promise you.

In one of my previous posts, Are short stories content? Or filler?, some rather interesting comments about short stories were made.  James Everington said, "Would 'The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson be six times better if it was six times the length?"  Shana Hammaker later commented, "I think I was in the seventh grade when I was required to read that, and I'll never forget how I felt when I finished it: horrified, nauseous, and really, really excited."

James' observation really stuck with me.  Like Shana, I had to read The Lottery when I was in high school.  That was the first short story that I had ever read.  Before reading that story I no idea that I had a taste for stories with slightly twisted endings.  Even though his question was rhetorical, my answer is that The Lottery is the perfect length.

Shana pointed out, "There just isn't a better example of a perfectly encapsulated short story than The Lottery."  I totally agree with that.  So many authors these days set this arbitrary cap on how long a short story has to be before they would consider publishing it as a standalone story.  Even worse, readers will thrash a short story because of its length alone; regardless of whether or not they enjoyed reading it.


The Lottery is 3,773 words long.  That's about 2,000 words shy of what a lot of authors consider to be "appropriate" short story length.  And yet, Jackson's story is one of the most famous in the genre.  Would it have been better if it was a 22,638 word novella?  Personally, I think it would have been worse.  Some stories are more effectively told in fewer words.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pandora's Children Book 3: Death Bleeds Into Life by Bradley Convissar



About Bradley Convissar:

I am a 33 year old dentist from NJ.  I graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1999 with a degree in Evolutionary Biology and earned my DMD in lovely Newark, NJ in 2003.  I am married, have 2 young kids and a diabetic wiener dog, and I love to extract teeth :-)  I am a horror writer, but somewhat different than most of today's horror writers, in that I don't write slasher stories, zombie/virus/post-apocalyptic America stories, or vampire romances.  I write what I consider good old fashioned King/Koontz/Barker/Matheson psychological horror.

Why he enjoys the short story form:

Ahh, short stories.  With today's on-the-go population, always on the move and with a somewhat shorter attention span, short stories prove the perfect diversion.  I own a Droid X and I love to download short story collections, especially from Indie authors, to read when I am out and about.  On line at the market.  At lunch.  While waiting to pick someone up.  Short stories provide the perfect vehicle for quick entertainment as we get along with our busy lives.  They also are a wonderful tool for new authors to get their voice heard.  Many people, and I include myself in this group, don't always want to invest the money or time on a full 300 page story by someone they have never heard of before.  But short stories give readers a wonderful opportunity to decide if they like an author's stories and style before making that commitment to read a whole novel.

Summary of this work:


Welcome to my chair.  Please, take a seat.  And please, try to relax.  This won’t hurt a bit.  But don’t be surprised if your heart races just a little bit.
In “Just Meat”, meet Amanda Madison, a first year medical student who learns more than expected one evening in her gross anatomy lab.
In “The Madame Penitent”, meet Mark Spencer, a teenager looking for one final thrill before a brain tumor kills him.
In “A Matter of Faith, A Matter of Balance”, meet Jebediah Jacobs, a religious leader in the Utah desert accused of horrible crimes.
In the novella “The Transfer”, meet Matthew Turner, a transfer student obsessed with unraveling the mysteries of the room next door and the girl murdered within two years earlier.
3 short stories, 1 novella, 45,000 words.
If you’re tired of zombies and vampires, then come on in and meet the damaged souls that are Pandora’s Children.  Don’t expect to leave unchanged.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Could short stories help interest children in reading?

This is an interesting question worth looking into.  Adults are forever lamenting the shortening attention spans of each generation.  With angle changes in movies every three seconds and video games that are motion extravaganzas, it is hardly surprising that children are bored with the shockingly inactive letters on a page.

I've always felt that reading is a learned skill.  Interest has to be nurtured in a child.  Parents have to not only introduce reading but also show their children that they enjoy reading themselves.  Bedtime stories can have a powerful impact on how the future adult views the solitary pastime of reading a book.

But what about slightly older children that already have formed views on reading?  Short stories may be a gentle way to introduce them into the literary world.  A short story is manageable.  It's not a threatening 400 page novel with twists and turns everywhere.  Due to the length of the short story, the language is usually concise and clear.  It's also no difficult to keep track of all of the characters.

For me, my passion for reading did not really spark until I found a series of Star Wars books that peaked my interest back in the day.  After that, I would read anything I could get my hands on.  But it's important to have that first "spark."  A short story could be something that provides that opportunity.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lonesome Night by Christopher Beck



About Christopher Beck and why he likes the short story genre:
 I've dabbled in writing ever since I was a kid but have only recently started to self-publish. I started with short stories for a number of reasons. One: I think readers may be more likely to purchase a .99 cent short from an unknown rather than a $2.99 (or higher) novel. Two: you can showcase your diversity, early and quickly, with shorts of different genre's. Three: they are just fun to write. Not everything has to be explained in a short, it can just be, and I think that gives authors a different sort of freedom when it comes to writing. Short Stories do not have to follow the same rules as novels and I think that is what is so appealing about them, to authors and readers alike.  

Summary of "Lonesome Night":
Distraught over the loss of his girlfriend, Michael can't take sitting around his apartment any longer. With no real destination in mind he heads out for the night. All he wants to do is clear his head and forget about Becky for awhile. Will he be able to do so? Or, will what awaits him in the night make Michael wish he had just stayed home?

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Paranoia over publishing stories that are "too short"

There seems to be widespread paranoia in the writing community about publishing stories that are "too short."  I would be a rich woman if I had a nickel every time I came across an author that has said "I won't publish anything under X number of words."  Somehow they have already figured out in their mind what is and is not acceptable to sell.

My theory (although this could be totally bogus) is that this mindset arises from our schooling days.  Years of having to write essays that were at least a certain word count pounds into our brain that longer, wordier works are preferable to shorter, concise ones.  Publishing a work that is below a certain word count not only would result in low sales but you could also get an F too.

Now, in all fairness, I will admit that my longer novellas sell better than my short stories.  So there is definitely something to be said for readers wanting to get the most bang for their buck.  But, on the flip side, I think it is the reader who should decide what their acceptable limit is, not the writer.  So long as you are upfront about how long your work is, why not try and experiment with a variety of lengths?

The tagline for the new Kindle Singles section is works of fiction "expressed at their natural length."  I really like the way they phrased that.  A story should be as long as it needs to be in order to be told well.  So what if that means 500 words or 500,000 words?  One of the best things about being an independent author is that you are not constrained by what others want you to write.  There should never be any pressure to artificially inflate a story in order to meet a quota.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Jim Bronyaur's Collection of Short Stories





About Jim Bronyaur:
My name is Jim and I sit at a desk in a corner and write horror.  I am a short story writer and a novelist.

There is a great writing community on Twitter called #FridayFlash.  The idea is to post a new flash story on Friday and tweet about it.  There are about 60-70 writers each week that write and it’s give us a chance to meet new writers, read new stories, etc.

I have stopped posting stories for free since the start of 2011 (which a few minor exceptions) as I prepare for my own book releases, etc.  I’ve met so many great people through this short story community and I plan on leaving my stories up forever to give people a chance to sample my writing and enjoy it. 

His views on the short story genre:
And reading short stories… this is the time!  We have e-readers and a chance to publish work at a price that publishers can’t touch.  We are in control, finally.  Let’s face it, some people out there don’t want to read novels.  And why should those people be banished from the beauty of words?  Maybe some people only want to read a short story – 1,000 words.  5,000 words.  Maybe even a novella.  Maybe it’s all they can commit to and maybe it’s all that they want to read.  For me, I say Great!  Everyone should read and what better way to be introduced to a new writer than a short story?  And to me, any writing is writing and any reading is reading.

Read Jim's short stories:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Concept behind "A Model Railway Man," a short story by Alain Gomez



The most difficult part in the creation process of this story was classifying it after I was done.  Has anyone else had this problem?  I went to upload it on PubIt and Amazon and they want you to add neat little labels to it.  I'm like, I have no idea what I what this story falls under.  Science fiction maybe?  What is science fiction?  Anything with unusual going-ons?  General fiction is too broad.  I want to attract readers that like weird endings.

Amazon and PubIt should have a sample link you could click on.  Your work would qualify as a space opera if it includes elements X,Y and Z.  Or suggestions on how to classify works in a manner that would appeal to your target audience.

Perhaps I am thinking about this way too much.  That was always where I got into trouble on multiple choice tests.  All the answers could be right!  But I think this is actually a legitimate concern for authors.  Plus, it would be to Amazon and B&N's advantage to help indie authors target the best audience.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Against Her Fading Hour by Isaac Sweeney



About Isaac Sweeney:
I'm the author of three short-story ebooks and one collection of nonfiction essays. The latest of the short story books is titled Against Her Fading Hour. I am also a freelance writer and editor, and I teach in various colleges near my home. I live in Verona, Va., with my wife, son, four dogs, three cats, and bunny.

Why Isaac enjoys the short story genre:
I love short stories. One reason is that I can usually start and finish reading a short story in one sitting. That doesn't mean short stories are without depth or importance; it just means short stories are, well, short. Almost paradoxically, short stories are so compact that I have to read many of them more than once to get the full experience. They are short and content-rich.


As an author, I find short stories challenging to write. I spend a lot of time revising my stories, often cutting and cutting and cutting. I want my stories to contain as much as possible with as few words as possible. I subscribe to the William Strunk notion that "Vigorous writing is concise." This is going to be a strange and varied list, but some of my favorite short story authors are Flannery O'Connor, Steve Almond, Sherman Alexie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Stephen King.

Summary of this work:

Against Her Fading Hour is a small collection of three short stories, all from women's perspectives.
In "Handi-Cure," Elisa is a widow looking for acceptance in the world. She tries to find it in men but, after an unusual experience in a nail salon, she makes personal changes.


“Urine Trouble Now” is about a young couple and their overly anxious cat. The cat pees on the floor, which brings up details about the couple's relationship.


In “Lemonade Nights,” after Marco's father dies, he burns down the backyard shed in a fit of rage. Feeling guilty, he decides to rebuild the shed. His wife, Emma, likes having a husband who is good with his hands, but soon feels lonely as Marco spends more and more time on his project.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Are short stories content? Or filler?

I'm fairly active on various writer/reader forums.  I find it's a good way to let people know about my work and to discover new authors whose work I might actually like to read.

An interesting comment that I see coming from a lot of authors is that they say they write short stories "between" novels.  Like the short story is an appetizer or palate refresher between main courses.  It's a mindset that made me realize that the problem with short stories these days is not the reader, it's the writer.

Personally, I think people are perfectly willing to try out a quality short story.  When I do story giveaways, I've never come across a person who says "Oh, sorry, I'm only interested in stories that are over 10,000 words."  But I think many writers feel guilty about trying to interest people in a short story.

Consequently, short stories often retain the stigma of being "filler."  The author spends most of their time promoting their novel and the short stories are just something that are nice to list off on a resume.  They fall by the wayside like they were never written at all.

Perhaps authors feel they're ripping off the reader?  There isn't enough quantity to justify the quality?  This should not be the case.  A quality short story can be just as entertaining as a quality novel.  They simply fulfill a different need.  Short stories are actual content and every short story author should view them on a plane equal to that of a novel.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Triple Fire by Jen Bluekissed



About Jen Bluekissed and why she likes the short story genre:
I am a writer of erotic romance and erotica.  Although I do have a few self published novels, I consider myself to be a short story writer first and foremost.  I have had 11 short stories published in anthologies published by Ravenous Romance, and have self published three short stories recently.  With erotic romance, I like the challenge of fitting in lots of plot, a HFN or HEA ending, and sex scenes that add to the plot and/or character development.  I especially enjoy writing short stories because every word has to count.  When I only have 2500 to 10,000 words to tell my entire story, I can't include anything that isn't vitally important.  Short story writing can really help to tighten up an author's writing, especially within the paranormal and fantasy genres. It's very easy to go overboard with description, but short stories have to strip away the unnecessary and simply get to the point. They're also a great exercise in practicing the idea of starting the action en media res. 

Summary of this work:
Sarkany lets her brother, Zmag, convince her to go on a blind date with a psychiatrist named Diego. Diego doesn't know that she is a three headed, fire breathing weredragon. When the other two spirits living inside Sarkany's body try to sabotage her love life, she is forced to tell Diego her secret. When he finds out who she is, sparks fly.

Warning: This 9300 word paranormal short story contains sizzling m/f and m/m/m/f sexual activity. Or, depending on the reader's perspective, it contains m/f/f/f and m/m/m/f/f/f sexual activity.

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