Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review of "Rogue Hunter: Gaia #1: Into the Abyss" by Kevis Hendrikson

Summary:
THE HUNT BEGINS! Zyra Zanr pursues a dangerous fugitive in possession of a mysterious, but deadly weapon. Zyra must recapture this weapon before it is unleashed upon the unsuspecting people of the galaxy. Book 1 of 3.


Review:
This is a fun sci-fi story that plays out like a first-person shooter computer game.  From starting out with the unclothed hero having to "equip" to running around in a red leather ensemble to action sequences that feel slightly reminiscent of punching out button combos on your game controller... it's got all the classic elements.

The premise of this story is interesting enough to have you keep reading.  You'll find yourself wanting to discover what exactly Zyra was sent to recover.  My only issue with this story was the dialog.  While the in-between descriptions were fun and very futuristic feeling, the dialog between  the characters felt generic and present day.  With characters duking it out in a life-or-death laser gun battle, it feels very out of place if one of them uses terms such as "party pooper."

However, I found myself enjoying this story as a whole.  I look forward to reading the other two in the series.

3.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ch'i Lin and the Cup by Edward C. Patterson

       SHE REACHED OUT and took the cup, her eyes closing, shutting the world out. She would not see the edge as it touched her lips and made bitter the sweetened rice brew that sealed this pact. Her red veil was raised, but her heart was far from the moment. As the acrid cooling brew washed bitter over her tongue, she recalled her childhood—a recollection that had ended with that brutal cup and this heartless pact.
     “Ch’i-lin,” came the voice. “Are you here Ch’i-lin?”
      She was here. She felt the gentle breeze of the kitchen on her cheek, although she stood in the parlor surrounded by guests. She had left her father at the door with the many gifts for Master K’ung—gifts that matched the family’s expectations. She had left her mother down the road, peering over the wall, tears of mixed-joy standing in eyes like water bags on a mule’s back, stubborn to flood her arroyo cheeks. Ch’i-lin was content behind her father’s walls, content to be just a girl, flowering and useful to mother’s chores, her sister’s games and her father’s doting. Life for those who have the misfortune to be born bereft of testicles are distracted by those who had them; and those that had them had cash and good connections.
      Ch’i-lin felt the kitchen’s breeze and she knew that her new mother stood in the portal planning the life of her new charge. Life for a childless woman was set, even at the age of thirteen; and childless Ch’i-lin would be. They all knew that. She heard that voice again—Ch’i-lin, but instead she heard the call of the kettles and woks, the buckets and the carry-poles. She had a strong back—her gift to the union as no issue would be coming. She shuddered and for a moment she wanted to answer the voice.
      “I am not here. I am in my father’s gardens sewing daisies to my mother’s skirts. I am singing to the willow and making my erh-hu sigh to the west wind. I am watching the rain kiss the bean fields and praying to the radishes as they quake from the soil. I am there, but never here. Never here.”
     The kitchen breeze and her new mother’s voice cawed. “Drink and make it so.”
Ch’i-lin opened her eyes and swallowed. It was a hollow choke—a bitter vision. Beyond the toil of her new life, her husband sat slumped in a muddle beside his mother. The rice wine slurped to his chapped, blackening lips; the drops beading down his sallow cheeks like grease from a roasting duck. 
     The corpse wore crimson raiment, silks much finer than its skin. Soon it would wear white funeral robes hosting another ceremonial. But first—this one; the one bonding two properties in peace and civility. Ch’i-lin shuddered and her childhood and maidenhood passed along with the cup—the cup that made her the widow K’ung and a mule to her new mother.

Check out more of Edward's work on Amazon
Or go and check out his website, Dancaster Creative

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review of “Her Last Christmas” by Melonie Phillips

Summary:
Christmas is a trying time for the aged, and it is no different for Mary Beth. But this year she has a secret. A tender yuletide tale perfect for the holidays, or any other time of the year.


Review:
This is a cute little story about a bereft family of a fallen soldier and their elderly neighbor helping each other through a tough Christmas.  It contains such religious undertones as are expected in a seasonal piece but does not proselytize. It stands in serious need of copyediting. The plot twist falls a little short of O. Henry but has a pleasant aftertaste. A quick and easy read.


3/5 stars
Reviewed by Purity Jones

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Time - A Love Story by David Michael

She opened the door wearing only a coy look and a towel, her hair still dripping wet.

He smiled and pulled her close to kiss her. She returned the kiss and put her arms around his neck, then squealed and pulled away from him as her towel started to fall off.

"The neighbors will see," she said. She retreated back into her apartment, holding the towel across her chest with one hand, holding it together in the back with the other.

"You're early.” She went into the bathroom, leaving the door ajar.

He followed her to the bathroom and leaned against the doorframe. She still held the towel to her chest, but the other hand was now pulling her wet hair back from her face, leaving her round bottom bare. "Not early enough," he said.

She was laughing and sexy and scandalized all at once as she turned to face him, and to put the towel between them. She shooed him away the door. "You can wait in there," she said. "I'll be ready in a few minutes."

He laughed and sat down in the small apartment's "dining room", the corner formed between the kitchen and one wall of the bathroom.

"You are early," she said, talking loudly enough to be heard through the mostly-closed door. "You said you would be here at seven."

"I said we needed to be there at seven," he said. "Takes us about fifteen minutes to get there. Longer," he added, "if you answer the door naked ..."

"You hush," she called back. "And I'll be ready in just a few minutes."

"I'm going to be late to my own birthday party," he said.

"It's not like they can start without you."

He chuckled, amused, slightly annoyed, and more than a little bit aroused. But he waited.

* * *

He came back into the house, looking for her.

"Did you forget your ring?" she asked. She stood in front of the vanity mirror, brush in one hand, hair mousse in the other, examining her hair from one angle, then another.

"No," he said. "You have yours?"

She gestured at him with the hair mousse, showing the gold ring on her finger. "Just thought that was what you were looking for." Then she stopped and looked at him. "Am I being slow again?" she asked.

He tried to keep the annoyance he felt off his face. "Yeah. We're all ready to go."

"I'll be done in just a few minutes." She applied the brush to her hair again, sweeping it from one side to another.

"We're already in the car," he said. "The baby is in her car seat. Ryan's watching her," he added, replying to the sharp look she gave him. "She's not alone in the car."

"It'll just be a couple more minutes."

"Yes," he said. "You said that ten minutes ago."

She stopped, hands frozen in mid-style, and looked at him with cold eyes. "It hasn't been ten minutes," she said.

He looked at his watch again. "Twelve, now."

"Fine," she said. She threw the mousse and the brush into the sink, where they clattered off each other and the porcelain. "Let's go then." She pushed past him, one hand flicking the lights off, leaving him in the dark.

"Why are you upset?" he asked, following her. "You're not the one who's been waiting."

"Just ... just ... be quiet," she said. In the living room, she pointed to the clock on the wall. "It's not even eleven yet. We don't have to be there until twelve."

He struggled to remain calm. "It takes us two hours to drive there. We're going to be an hour late."

"Fine," she said. "We'll be late."

The car trip was a mostly quiet one. As quiet as any car trip can be with two children sharing the back seat.

* * *

She woke him when she climbed over him into bed. "You're asleep," she said, giving him an accusing poke.

"Of course," he said. "It's--" He paused and lifted his head enough to see the red numbers of the clock. "It's two o'clock in the morning."

She got under the comforter with him and snuggled close. "I thought you were going to wait up for me."

"I did."

"You fell asleep."

"Yeah," he said. "About an hour ago."

"Sleepy head," she said, and turned over and pulled away from him.

He laughed and pulled her close again. Then went back to sleep, spooning her. They would both be awake in the morning.

* * *

"I'm sorry," she said. "I made us late again."

"Nope," he said, starting the engine.

"I thought we had to be there at one o'clock."

He just grinned at her.

She stuck her tongue out at him.

"What?" asked the children from the back seat, no longer in either car seats or booster seats.

"Nothing," he said, laughing.

* * *

Twenty years? You outlived me by twenty years?

Hush! I found you didn't I?

You said you wouldn't live more than a few years without me.

I finally had so much free time ... I got so many quilts finished. I did some writing ...

You have no concept of time.

You going to bring that up again?

Nope. Who needs time? Especially now?

I'm glad you waited for me.

What else was I going to do? I love you.


You can read more of David's at his blog, Guns & Magic

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Flash Fiction Features

Finally!  The flash fiction features will be fluttering in tomorrow.  Fast, funny or furious, we must feast upon the fiction a flock of authors have favored upon us.  Feel free to fetch wine and fawn over the works.  No one will fault you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Author interview: R.M. Prioleau

How did you become interested in short stories?
For me, I wanted to practice writing shorter, self-contained stories, so I looked into and researched the concepts that it takes to write an effective story in so few words. I've since fallen in love with this seemingly 'new' way of thinking when it comes to writing, and I am working on producing my own collection of short stories very soon. I am currently in the process of releasing a novella in the spring 2011, and afterwards, I will look at releasing more shorter, self-contained works.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
Because I'm new to the game, I can't really say that for certain at this time. I think any form of writing can be a worthwhile endeavor if it's done right. Telling a good short story can be just as powerful as telling a good novel-sized story. What I like about shorter stories is that you can produce many of them in a shorter period of time. I think if you have a story to tell and it's not quite novel-sized, then tell it anyway and share it with the world.

What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
For my novella, I've been trying to be as viral as possible on the internet. Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, word of mouth and getting involved in writing communities are just some of the many ways I've been trying to get the awareness of my novella out.

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you?
It's too early for me to say what has and hasn't worked so far since the book isn't out yet. I am not the type that will go around spamming random places with my book info. I do what I can when and where it's appropriate and hopefully get some exposure and awareness that way. I suppose it may not always be effective, but at least the information is out there in case anyone gets curious.

Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story?  Why or why not?
I think 99 cents is an excellent, impulse-buying price. It's been said in many writing communities that 99 cents is less than a cup of coffee and a movie. We pay so much for entertainment, but there are so many entertaining stories to explore for less than a buck!



Check out R.M.'s website
Or follow R.M. on twitter

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Google Alerts: The best tool for independent authors since fresh coffee

I know I'm probably about five years behind the time here, but I just discovered Google Alerts.  Basically what it does is notify you every time a certain key word(s) occurs on the internet.  You can also specify what type of medium you would like for the key word to appear in (blogs, the news, etc...).

For independent authors, this is an invaluable tool.  It makes it really easy to find bloggers that do reviews for stories in your genre.  Not only does it save you the hassle of having to sift through thousands of search word results, but you also assured that the blogs you do contact are active.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Author interview: Brandon Woods

How did you become interested in short stories?
I became a short-story writer more or less by happenstance, which is how I would guess most people stumble into it.

To make a long story short, I spent a summer working on an oil rig, felt very isolated, and began posting on a popular internet forum to unwind. The owner of the forum took notice that people seemed to respond well to my stuff and offered me a chance to post short-stories on a website. Over time, I ended up building a small following.

Unfortunately, I found I could no longer continue at that specific venue and left. It was doubly unfortunate because almost no one who read me knew where I'd gone. I did, however, manage to retain a couple hundred core readers who wanted new stuff. So, instead of writing a novel or anything long form, I kept shoveling coal on the fire. I kept putting out new stories for the readers I had left, and expanded organically from there.

I'm proud to say I'm back up to more or less what my readership was before the falling out and I hope to keep growing.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
I think it's completely a matter of what kind of person you are and what kind of stories you have to tell. For me personally, working in short stories allows me to explore events and ideas in depth without having to worry about whether or not they serve a larger plot. I liken it to television versus film. If you want to write something "episodic" then I think short-stories can be very worthwhile.


What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
If I had to guess why people respond well to what I write, I would say it's because I always try to be open and honest. I also write in a variety of different genres so I cast a pretty wide net. I find "gimmicks" tend not to work for me.

Some of the most fun I've had getting people to my website, and looking at my work, has had nothing to do with my writing. I think it's important as a writer to remember that people want to interact with you as a person and not as some sort of machine that just "makes stuff." I find it best to be friendly with people, rather than try to to overtly "sell."

For example, I once spent $300 sending machetes out to twenty of my female readers in just about every English speaking country in the world. I did it for no other reason than that I thought it would be funny to have them all send in pictures doing random stuff with their machetes. The result, I think, was hilarious.

That doesn't directly impact "marketing" and it doesn't have a lot to do with anything in terms of sales, but it does build a sense of community that is enjoyable for both myself and my readers. If I don't enjoy it, I just don't do it.

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you?
Any time I've sat down and said "I'm going to go out and market what I'm doing" I fall flat on my face. Anything that feels contrived makes something in me rebel. 

Once, when I first started I tried to get everyone to Digg a story on my birthday. We wound up with 200 digs or something on that scale... but it never got any extra traffic to the site. Plus, I felt like I was following people around like some nasty school teacher making sure they'd done their homework. In other words, no fun.

I try to keep my relationship with my readers mutually beneficial. If it ain't entertaining for either of us, I can't expect them to want to have anything to do with it.

Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story?  Why or why not?
I think that's a wonderful price for a short story, but to me it then becomes an issue of packaging. While I think $0.99 is a great price for a standalone short story, that still means a writer doing e-publishing is only going to get 30% of the cut because of the way Amazon structures its contract.

I think we're going to see a popular form of "Mini-Anthology" emerge out of the eBook business. Yes, $0.99 is a fair price for one short story, so it stands to reason (by way of multiplication) that $2.99 is a fair price for three short stories. 

At a $2.99 price point, Amazon is going to give you 70% of the profits. So you're making more than double the money, for the same work, just by changing the packaging. 

I've cynically thought about releasing all my stories as singles for $1.50 just to drive sales to the $2.99 mini-anthologies but... nah. It just makes me feel evil. I know if I consistently provide an entertaining and positive experience for readers then they're going to react positively to me and reward my effort.



Check out Brandon's site


Or go see his stuff on Amazon

Friday, April 22, 2011

Review of "The Last Hero" by Ben Dobson

Summary:
The world of man has fallen. Their armies are routed, their cities razed, their holy places desecrated. The greatest heroes of mankind have been defeated, one by one, seeking the architect of this destruction. At the top of a mountain at the end of the world, one man continues their quest.

Is he the last hero of humanity?

Or is he merely the last to die?



Review:
I really enjoyed this short story.  It's a succinct, high-fantasy tale that grabs you from the very start as you follow the fate of the last hero.

Fantasy stories really should be called "tales."  They have to almost have a rhythm to them like the old epic poems told by the ancient Greeks.  It helps to capture that sense of heroes and deeds that are larger than life.  One of the things I enjoyed the most about this short story was how adeptly this author mimics that style.

Equally impressive is that the author throws you into an exciting world of sprawling high-fantasy but does it in less than 4,000 words.  With the genre's hard-earned reputation of being long-winded, this story was like a breath of fresh air.

Fantastic job and a highly recommended read.

4.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Author interview: Annie Bellet

How did you become interested in short stories?
A teacher in the 4th grade got me into writing short stories.  So I guess I was an early convert to the short story form.  I love reading them and have since I was little, so I guess it is only natural that I write them, too.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
Yes. Very, very worthwhile.  Short stories are tougher to write then they look, but the rewards are also better in terms of craft and experimentation.  I can take a technique or an idea and explore it in a short story while only investing a relatively (compared to a novel) small amount of time and effort.  Short stories give me room to play and try out ideas and characters that aren't right for a longer piece.  

What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
Selling to magazines seems to be the best route, but I'm not sure you'd call that promotion exactly.  I think the low price (.99 cents to 1.99 each for my individual ones) is a draw.  I don't really promote them.

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you?
I'm just not a big promoter, but I imagine lying about the length (I've seen people get angry in reviews because something wasn't identified as a short story) would be a bad thing to do.  All my short stories and novelettes/novellas are marked as such.  I want people to know exactly what they are buying, after all.

Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story?  Why or why not?
I do. A good short story still takes many hours of work and a lot of craft and ability.  A good short story provides an hour or more of entertainment and a nice taste of what an author writes.  A dollar or two doesn't seem like too much for all that.  I happily buy short stories and collections.  It's a good way to get to know an author's work without investing the time to read a novel.



Check out Annie's work on Amazon

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review of “The Queen of Frost and Darkness” by Christine Pope

Summary:
Galina Andreevna Godunov is in love with the dashing young Baron Karel Ivanovich Saburov, and is sure he is about to propose. However, things don't go quite as she planned when a mysterious woman enters the scene...

The opulent czarist era of 1870s Russia comes vividly to life in this short story-length re-imagining of Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairytale, "The Snow Queen."



Review:
“The Queen of Frost and Darkness” is an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen.”  It tells the story of Galina, a debutante who hopes to receive an offer of marriage from her childhood playmate, but instead sees him fall for an enchanting stranger.

The author’s choice of upper-class, 19th-century St. Petersburg rather than a fictional place lends considerable realism to the story, and her attention to historical accuracy is exemplary. Her fluid, descriptive writing style makes for a smooth read, at first—the addition of magical elements feels choppy, and a suspenseful quest leads to an anticlimax without a villain.

3.5/5 stars

Reviewed by Purity Jones

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Author interview: John Brinling

How did you become interested in short stories?
I’ve always liked short stories since I first read Poe.


As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile? Why?
I write short stories as a break from my larger works or when I feel the need to put something down on paper as a result of something I've seen or heard that affected me.


What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
I've used my short stories as a means to promote my name recognition, not as an income generator. His First Kill is available free on Smashwords, and I have done well with it. I’ve recently made my two other shorts free, since I’m interested in reaching new readers more than making any money on them. The titles of these two stories is: A Whale Of A Myth and A Memorable Weekend.


Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story? Why or why not?
I think it’s fair, but there seems to be resistance to paying even a dollar for a short story, so selling them is a problem, especially since many full length novels are now being sold for that price. I don't know the answer to  our question, since most sites like Amazon have that $0.99 lower limit.


Check out John's stories on Smashwords
Or on Amazon

Monday, April 18, 2011

Review of "Rock" by Katrina Parker Williams


Summary:
Enslavement, murder, abuse, illness: there’s real trouble for the characters in Trouble Down South and Other Stories. The short stories take the reader on a journey to the past through a collection of interestingly crafted pieces of flawed humanness, social injustice, and redemption, and even humor.

The short story collection of historical fiction chronicles events spanning more than 150 years and addresses a wide range of experiences from African-American perspectives. The stories are set in the South amid a changing landscape in which the characters are forced to wrestle with the social issues surrounding Native Americans, slavery, racism, Prohibition, World War I, the Korean War, Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, health, religion, mental illness, and education.



Review:
This review is for a single story in the short story collection by Williams.  "Rock" tells the story of a colored soldier after he returns home from serving his country honorably in WWII.  This is a very simple story which, as I thought about it, kind of suited the simple people it described.

Rock, the afore mentioned soldier, is essentially abused and treated with contempt despite his having saved the life of a white man.  While his situation is pitiable, I found it difficult to really connect with Rock.  No character quirks are really given.  Rock could have been any stranger.  In a short story, I feel that it's important to immediately connect with the character in some way.  Especially in cases of such extreme injustice.

There were a few run-on sentences, but overall the writing style in the story is solid.  The author does a nice job giving you a feel for the time period in which this story takes place.

3/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Author interview: David Michael

How did you become interested in short stories?
Short stories scared me when I was younger. Not the stories themselves, really. The *writing* of short stories scared me. How was I suppose to get these big ideas in my head into a little short story? I didn't know. =)

In 2006, though, I realized that if I wanted to improve as a writer, I needed a faster turnaround for feedback than I was getting from novels. My first real novel took a long time to finish, and I could see how much I had improved as a writer by comparing the last few chapters with the first few. Short stories seemed a good way to write something to completion, and then get it judged (by me, by my wife, by anyone who happened by my blog at the time).

As I wrote short story after short story that year, I fell in love with the format. I also learned a lot about writing. =) I've continued to write short stories ever since (though not at the same rate).


As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
Not every story needs a 3-book, 600,000-word telling. Or even a 1-book, 100,000-word telling. Or even a ... You get the idea. =)

Some stories are naturally, well, short.

Also, I like to use short stories to explore ideas (characters, settings, narrative style) before I try to expand them. I've also used short stories to revisit characters from novels I've already written.


Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story?  Why or why not?
Absolutely. The price just *fits*. In the future, I expect the price will go up (just like it has for music), adjusting for inflation and "star power", but for this moment in time, it's the perfect price.

My only complaint is that the current royalty structure for the 99 cent price point is so low.



Check out David's work on Amazon

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Discovery," flash fiction by Alain Gomez

"Darling, I noticed a whole squad of news vans crowded around the Smith's house down the street.  What do you think that's for, I wonder?"

"Oh!  Didn't you hear?  They discovered a lost book of the Bible in their attic."

"You don't say!"

"I know!  Isn't that just the darnedest thing?  Scholars from all over the country are being flown in to authenticate it.  That makes two this month!"

"Two?"

"Why, yes!  Just a few weeks ago the Jones' discovered the rest of Mozart's Requiem Mass in their attic."

"Good Lord!"

"Tell me about it.  Music experts supposed for hundreds of years that The Requiem was left unfinished.  It would turn up in the home of people as annoying as the Jonses'."

"Quite unfair, really."

"Collectors are already offering them a fortune for those dratted sheets of music."

"Darling.... how about we have a go 'round in our attic?  Haven't been up there for years.  Never know what might turn up."

"What a marvelous idea!  Let me put some coffee on and I'll go right up and join you."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Author interview: Nicholas Ambrose

How did you become interested in short stories?
Much as I love writing novels, short stories are always great because it gives a chance to write something smaller in scale. It's so easy to get involved in the idea of writing full-length novels, when short stories are a great art of their own, with their own styles and disciplines. If anything, they're more of a challenge than a novel, because they need to be so much more focussed and snappier - and that's a fantastic challenge to undertake.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
Of course I do! It all depends on the story. Some of them need to be long, and take several hundred pages to tell. But what about the shorter ones? What's the point in massively fleshing out and padding something that works perfectly well as it is, without being really long? If a story wants to be a short story, then that's what it should be.

What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
I'm just getting into the publishing game, so I'm still new to all this. I'm currently publicising my blog, writing guest posts and interviews for others and also doing a bunch of social networking via Twitter! It's definitely got the ball rolling, and it can only pick up from here.

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you?

It's too early to say right now - I'll have to get back to you!


Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story?  Why or why not?
It's perfectly fair. 99 cents is a great price because it's an impulse buy. It also serves as an entry point to newer readers, who might want to read something shorter than a full book by an author they've heard about, and don't want to pay quite as much for the privilege of the trial. It's a fantastic way to let people try out a smaller piece of your work before dipping their toe into your larger works.



Check out Nick's stories on Amazon US
Or on Amazon UK

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guest article by Jennifer Conner from e-publishing company Books to Go Now

People aren’t reading less, in fact I feel people are reading more than ever. Readers want to escape if even for a short time for romance, adventure, and thrills. What is changing is the way we are reading. The paper book will never go away, it is a part of us, but with busy lives, cumbersome books to tote around are being replaced with on the go, easy read devices such as Kindles, Nooks, IPads, and even our phones.

We are all busier than ever, and we need to fit in those precious moments to read when and where we can. With my e-pub company, Books to Go Now, we took this one step farther. We feel there is a sparked resurgence in a need for short stories. If you have fifteen minutes, then we have a story.

Such prominent authors as Leo Tolstoy, James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway have composed short-short fiction pieces. A need for short stories was pushed aside when television came on the entertainment scene. But now, with so many ways to read, it's back and the new ‘big’ thing.  

The Chinese call these stories "Smoke-Long" as they can be read from start to finish while the reader smokes a cigarette. Well, that won’t work anymore so we need to come up with a new term. It has been called micro-fiction, one-minute fiction, mini-fiction, flash fiction, and sudden fiction, among others. Whatever the accepted designation, the short-short story continues to gain popularity and recognition as a category of short fiction. People need stories they can read waiting to pick up the kids, on the commute to work, or while cooking dinner.

Books to Go Now carries all lengths of stories from novellas to full length novels, anthologies and of course, shorts. We even have a serial, Bad Spirits. Each installment is its own little mini novel, ending with a cliffhanger. In the minutes it takes to Google and download a short story, it’s in your hands and ready to read. Convenience is one of the things that is guiding this direction in publishing.

Visit our website at www.bookstogonow.com or on the Android Marketplace to download some high quality and fun stories. My own short romances are available. Sweet, All I Want for Christmas is You and Cupcakes and Cupids, or sexy Do You Hear What I Hear? (based on my true life experiences working as a wedding caterer). On the Android Marketplace you will find a free sample download of my story Wedding’s First Chance and others, free or for only .99. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Author interview: Isaac Sweeney

How did you become interested in short stories?
In school, the assignments were always to write short stories or poetry in the creative writing classes. We also read a lot of short stories. There just isn't time to assign a whole novel in a semester. So I started writing short stories out of necessity -- it was the assignment. But I fell in love with the craft. I love reading them because I can start and finish reading a short story in one sitting. I love writing them because, as the writer, I find them challenging, intensely focused, and extremely engaging.


As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
Yes. Absolutely. I think there's art in the brevity of a short story. It's Hemingway's iceberg principle (all that stuff unrevealed that's under the surface -- the stuff you know is there and you still have to watch out for). I've said this before, but one of my favorite writing rules is by William Strunk. I'll regurgitate the whole thing here: "Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the write make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell."
When I write short stories, I revise a lot. I cut and cut. Everything I think is unnecessary, I get rid of, until you have a plot, interesting and insightful characters, and a story that manages to be  powerful. I feel another quote coming on: "If you would be pungent, be brief; for it is with words as it is with sunbeams. The more thay are condensed, the deeper they burn" (Robert Southey).

What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
I still try to find people to review my pieces, though reviewers like novels. I'm "on the list" with a few review blogs and websites, so hopefully they will review soon. I've signed up for some interviews. I use Twitter pretty well, and Facebook a little less effectively. I'm thinking long-term and building myself as a brand, so I'm doing well with that. I was recently "Twitterviewed" by Novel Publicity (transcript here: http://www.novelpublicity.com/2011/03/isaacsweeney-author-of-against-her-fading-hour/) which I think was great for building my brand. I love Kindleboards as a way to communicate, to learn, and to promote. I would like to see more ebook authors do readings or host "Kindle parties" or things like that. Maybe one day.

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you?
Being pushy and saying, "buy this." That doesn't work. I try to be a human being and communicate with people, and not just be a commercial.

Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story?  Why or why not?
I think it's more than fair. Unfortunately, I'm not my market, and I don't think all readers consider it fair. In America, size equals power/prestige. People want the most for their money, but they measure "the most" by the weight of a thing or by how much space it takes up. Quality should be more important than it is. The most for the money should include the experience of the story, the lasting impression, the quality of the piece. It's like other art forms. We don't judge the mastery of a painting by the size of the canvas. The Vietnam memorial in Washington DC is a minimalist type of structure, but it has been hailed as one of the best war memorials in the world. I guess what I'm saying is that although readers can get novels for 99 cents, that shouldn't devalue the short story.

Check out Isaac's work on Amazon

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Advertising on Goodreads

One of my very first blog posts was on paying for advertisement as an indie author.  You can read it here:  http://bookbrouhaha.blogspot.com/2011/02/paying-for-ads-bottomless-pit-of.html

I posted the blog on Goodreads and Kindleboards.  Several people made the comment that they had far more success with a Goodreads ad than with places like Facebook or Google Ads.  Success being defined as a noticeable click-to-sale ration.  They said that Goodreads has the advantage of being a reading website so your audience is already there.

Intrigued, I decided to fork over a few bucks and give Goodreads a shot.  To-date I have done two separate campaigns.  One had two stories featured with direct links to Amazon and B&N.  The other campaign just had the Goodreads link.

For both campaigns I saw no noticeable click-to-sale success rate.  Because I targeted my books to specific audiences, the clicks were very few and far between. Although I probably gained some exposure, I still stand by my original opinion: paying for ads is not worth it.  As a mostly unknown indie author, it would take years (literally) to earn back what I would have to spend in a longterm ad campaign.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Daniel Boone Regional Library hosts flash fiction contest for teens

I thought this was a really cool little piece of news that I noticed the other day:  http://teens.dbrl.org/2011/04/06/flash-fiction-booklet-available/.  A local library hosted a flash fiction contest for its teens.  Flash fiction is an excellent way to get teens thinking and writing.  Some of the pieces that were submitted are quite fun to read!  I recommend taking a moment to download the PDF.

Author interview: Selene Coulter

How did you become interested in short stories?
I am self-taught reader and started with a cookbook, of all things, at the age of 3. (Aside: probably the first and last time I picked one up!) I then progressed onto a steady diet of Andersen, Grimm and Greek myths. Nothing has ever captured my imagination like those tales of old, so when I started writing as an adult, I couldn't help but want to imitate that which captured my imagination as a child. 

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
Absolutely. As traditionally published books increase in length, so the attention span of the younger (and in some cases older) generations wane. The old cliche 'time is money' has also never been more relevant. A reader's time is incredibly precious. As a writer, I believe the only way to address the growing disinterest in reading is to find a formula where x+y=z, where x is something worthwhile to say, y is how long it takes for a writer to say it, and z is a positive outcome for the reader. That formula, on many occasions, is best met with a short story.

What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
I've been published for less than a week so I can only really say, 'watch this space'. Certainly participating in the Smashwords promo hasn't hurt as hopefully all 41 copies of my short story I've given away will be read and enjoyed. 

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you?
I am hoping to do  follow-up in a year and tell you 'none', however, I am sure I'll have something to add to this topic down the road...

Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story?  Why or why not?
The true answer to this question is really another question: What's a fair price? As an economist, I can wax on about the likes of supply and demand until the cows come home. As a writer, I value a story that has something to say. I may hate what it tells me. I may think long and hard about what it tells me. I may love how it makes me feel for that moment and an hour afterwards. If a story can touch your mind, your emotions, or encapsulate something about who you are, then it sure as hell equates to a price of  a can of coke (and quite frankly more).

Check out Selene's work on Amazon US

Or find her on Amazon UK

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Author interview: Edwin Stark

How did you become interested in short stories? 
I started writing short stories both as a learning experience (I'm originally a native Spanish speaker) and as a mean to pass time (I live in a tropical rainforest: plenty lonely and BORING).  I suddenly discovered I had the knack to write and I haven't stopped ever since.
 
As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why? 
Yes, it is. I love the ability to communicate something in 3000 words or less. I'm usually too elaborate in my descriptions and I find it quite challenging to limit myself to the aforementioned word limit. It's very rewarding.
 
What types of short story promotion have worked for you? 
The funny stuff is that I use my short stories to hook my readers into my longer works. Whenever I sell a copy of Cuentos, my short story collection, I almost always get a follow up sale of my other books.
 
What types of short story promotion have not worked for you? 
The standalone short story way: I like to provide my readers with a diversity of diverging short story styles to make them able to see my writing range: If I show a sci-fi fan a horror short story (or viceversa) I may end up alienating a potential reader.
 
Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story?  Why or why not? 
See reason above... 99 cents is what I charge for my short story collection at this stage in my writing career.



Check out Edwin's short story collection on Smashwords
Or find out more about him by viewing his profile

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Author interview: Richard Daybell

How did you become interested in short stories?
I wrote short stories before undertaking a novel.  For several years, I wrote primarily short humor -- satirical pieces.  I guess they'd be considered nonfiction, but barely.  Short fiction was the next logical step, and I really enjoyed the freedom it gave me.  Because I love the Caribbean, I began using it as a setting for a lot of the stories.


As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
For the pleasure, yes.  For publishing, it's certainly become tougher through the years.  I was lucky enough to sell stories to a few pretty good markets.  American Way and Hemispheres, two inflight magazines, published several.  Neither uses fiction anymore.


What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
The only promotion I've done for my short stories, beyond marketing to magazines, is for my collection, Calypso: stories of the Caribbean, featuring 15 of my stories.  


What types of short story promotion have not worked for you?
I don't yet know what works and what doesn't.


Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a short story?  Why or why not?
Certainly.  A collection of short stories most often sells for much less than that per story. A magazine with a short story sells for a couple of bucks and you get all that other stuff.  And the inflight magazines that featured my stories were free.


Check out Richard's stories on Amazon
Or check out his blog

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Personal Trainer," flash fiction by Alain Gomez

"My God, what happened here?" she asked as the paramedics wheeled out an unconscious patient.

"Oh, just Mr. Cartman's 11:30.  Since he's available now, would you like to start your personal training session a few minutes early?"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Author interview: Chuck Heintzelman

How did you become interested in short stories? 
As a reader, I fell in love with short stories as a kid.  Especially Edgar Allen Poe.  Then Lovecraft and anything bizarre and weird I could get my hands on.  I plowed through magazines like Ripley's Believe It or Not, but really I became an indiscriminant reader, consuming anything and everything.

Unlike most authors, I wasn't pounding away at a typewriter in the womb.  I didn't start writing until my mid-30's.  Wow, that's ten years ago now.  After writing several deservedly unpublishable novels I started on short stories and began having lots of fun.  My goal this year is to create 50 new short stories.  I'm currently writing my seventh and having a blast doing it.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile? Why? 
Absolutely.  The problem many authors I've talked to have is they have too many ideas.  Writing short stories allows you to explore more ideas in a shorter amount of time.  As far as learning the craft, short stories are great.  You can write 4 or 5 thousand words, polish them the best you can, and get feedback quickly. From start to finish it only takes a week or two instead of three months writing a novel and several weeks getting feedback.

But, above all, the most worthwhile aspect of writing a short story is entertainment.  Both for the author and the reader.

What types of short story promotion have worked for you? 
I'm new to the promotion game.  Heh, I only discovered KindleBoards a week ago.  Having a website is a must.  I get decent traffic on mine.  Recently I've had over a hundred visitors in a single day.  That may not sound like much, but to me it's exciting.

I've put some stories up at SmashWords and for the last week have been allowing people to download them for free.  In the last two days I've had 75 people download stories of mine.  I know these aren't JA Konrath or Amanda Hocking numbers, but keep in mind that three months ago I didn't have any stories out anywhere except my web site.

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you? 
I haven't been adept at using Twitter to promote my stories.  I only have a couple hundred followers, but have had only a handful of visits to my website from Twitter.

Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story?  Why or why  not? 
Without a doubt 99 cents is a fair price.  Look at the price of a single cup of coffee.  And I'm not even talking fancy Starbuck's coffee.  If you figure people read prose at a rate of between 250 to 300 words per minute.  That's 16 - 20 minutes of enjoyment for a 5,000 word story.

Check out Chuck's site