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Showing posts from July, 2011

A list of all the things working against me

I was thinking about this the other day and I decided to compile a list of all the things that seem to be "working against me" when it comes to sheer sales numbers:

-I write short stories.  Let's face it: short stories are making a comeback but the novel is still the dominant animal out there.

-I write in multiple genres.  This crime is not so bad.  But it will be important for me to make sure that I eventually have a selection of different stories in each genre.

-More importantly, I write in the wrong genres.  These days, vampires sell.  Vampires and sex.  If you can manage to fit both of those in the same book, you're golden.

-I'm independently published.  Again, a lesser crime.  But I have noticed when looking around for other blogger to review my work, many of them still have a stigma against self-published authors.

-I only have ebooks available, no hard copies.


Ok, so those seem to be all the big things.  How to fix them?  Here was my big conclusion: I don&#…

Concept behind "The Hall of Immortals" by Alain Gomez

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The fifth and final installment to my Space Hotel Series.  It's about a brain.  In a jar.  I know I'm strange but I just find brains in jars to be so classic and creepy.  Though I never say the character's name outright, this story does follow the fate of the doctor I introduced in part one, Celebrity Space.  
The Hall of Immortals is a little different from the others in the series.  It's more focused on the psychological rather than the action.  It kind of had to be.  What else can a brain do?  But it made for a very interesting writing project.  Since the brain is denied her senses, what defines her reality?
Though the story approach was different, I think The Hall of Immortals keeps with the style of the whole series.  As with the other stories, it is standalone but also interconnected.  It also has that same kind of dark twist at the end.

Review of "Take One at Bedtime," short story collection by Jenny Twist

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Summary: Nobody ever goes upstairs in Margaret's house. So what is making the strange thumping noises up there? And why is there a toy rabbit under the kitchen table?

Margaret's Ghost is just one of a collection of short stories consisting mainly of horror and science fiction, ranging from a classic gothic tale – Jack Trevellyn – to the Wyndhamesque Victim of Fortune, and the modern Waiting for Daddy, with its spine-chilling twist.

There is also the occasional excursion into romance with A Castle in Spain and Jess's Girl.
But most of these tales take you to a place which is not quite as it seems.

It's bedtime now. Time to go upstairs. Time to take a look. Just one look.

WARNING: Do not exceed the stated dose.
Review: This is a rather large collection of short stories.  Though the collection itself is big, most of the titles do not exceed 2,000 words.
Aside from the possibility that each little tale could easily be read before bed as the author suggested, there doesn't …

I am sick of looking at my sales

Well, I think I finally did it.  They said it would happen.  I didn't think it was true.  But apparently it is!  I am officially sick of looking at my sales.  Checking sales has cured me of checking sales.

Oh I'm definitely not sick of writing.  Far from it.  I'm just sick of looking at my sales.  The emotional roller coaster of constantly checking and then being either crushed or elated.  More often than not it's that crushed feeling.

It's very liberating, actually.  I feel like I achieved an enlightened state or something.  I'm much more relaxed.  I find I enjoy writing, blogging and  forum discussions more now that I lost that edge of feeling like I need to be getting my next story out or all my books will fall off the face of the earth.

But the biggest thing in my post-sales-checking-enlightenment is the ability to see the bigger picture.  Sales checking is an evil every independent author must face.  The hourly obsession with looking at numbers keeps you g…

Review of "Mannequin," a short story by Susan Helene Gottfried

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Summary: Lynne's dad often takes her shopping with him at a high-end men's boutique. Lynne likes to sit at the feet of the mannequin in the window and dream of what he'd be like if he were real. One day, a stranger walks in. For Lynne, nothing will be the same ever again.
Review: I was kind of taken off guard by this story.  It's really an interesting piece.  While the summary is accurate, I don't think it really captures the charm or mood of the story at all.
Mannequin is told from the point of view of a young girl.  While her age is never mentioned, it seems that she is on the cusp of womanhood.  Obviously unhappy with her workaholic father, she imagines what it would be like if the mannequin came to life and was her real dad.  Though her daydream is about a fantasy father figure, it would also seem that she is unconsciously figuring out what she would look for in a future mate.
The juxtaposition of her clothing obsessed father with the mannequin makes for a very th…

Guest blog on short stories by Keith Darrell

Long before man first grasped a quill, he would gather his tribe around the campfire and tell tales. Fiction has always been about storytelling. It began as oral tradition, tales passed through the generations by word of mouth, and later etched on papyrus, paper, and now digital screens. Stories vary in length: there is the brief joke; flash fiction; the short story; the novelette; the novella; the novel; and the epic or saga. 
The short story sits on the literary landscape somewhere between the joke and the epic. It is, arguably, the most difficult format to write. It demands brevity and conciseness of the writer. Diction and vocabulary become paramount. Seeking an economy of words, the short story author must chose le mot juste. Many authors, used to writing without constraint, find it challenging not to write; it is far easier to ramble aimlessly than to choose one’s words with precision and ration them accordingly. 
The short story usually eschews subplots in favor of a single plot …

Review of "A Cheerful Smoke for the Dead," a short story by Ron Leighton

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Summary: Young Nathaiu frets over the journey of his dead parents in the afterlife. When an old man comes to town peddling an incense said to lead the dead straight to the holy father, Orotar, Nathaiu buys a pouch of the stuff. When he burns the incense at his evening prayers, he discovers the nature of the old man's magic.
Review: The only thing that really makes this story fall under the short story genre is the word count.  A Cheerful Smoke for the Dead is not a concise story concept.  With a barrage of characters, magic and motives, this story was clearly created to be a teaser for a to-be-released novel that the author mentions at the conclusion in lieu of a "the end."
I was a little overwhelmed by all the information presented right off the bat.  Just as soon as you start to figure out what the heck is going on with Nathaiu the story ends.  I confess I felt slightly disappointed in the fact that the whole thing felt like a "beginning" rather than a more compl…

Getting your short stories in print?

I've really been thinking about this lately.  The thought process had renewed vigor as I was watching a video blog from a novelist who was excited about her first collection being available for print.  You can watch it here if you'd like.

I've looked at Createspace prices and you'd definitely have to have a pretty solid collection on your hands.  Long enough to where it looks substantial but not so long that you lose next month's rent paying for printing costs.  I mean, you would have to have a collection long enough that you would feel comfortable charging $5.99-7.99 for.

But I'm still not convinced this is a wise move yet for the short story author.  Considering how sales for this genre come it at a slow trickle (with the optimistic hopes of the dam breaking later), there's not much to indicate that the physical copy will help your cause.  Even people who have novels out have admitted that it takes quite a bit of time to make your printing costs money ba…

Review of "Press Delete," a short story by Maria Papadopoulou

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Summary: Miranda and George are having problems. Who is the victimizer and who is the victim? Nothing is as it seems, and only towards the end will the truth be revealed.
Review:
Though this story clocks in at slightly over 1,000 words, it has a flash fiction flavor to it.  It doesn't read like a story.  More like a stream of consciousness or a pained journal entry as a woman's husband leaves her.

Contrary to what the summary suggests, who actually caused the breakup is really not the most interesting aspect to Press Delete.  What's interesting is the multiple sides to the story presented from one point of view. Most people who have been in a relationship will instantly relate to Miranda; the pangs of heartbreak and jealousy.  However, even as she berates her husband, you can't help but see George's point of view: is she just overly suspicious?

Though well-written, I'm not sure if this story is strong enough to stand by itself simply because it's a stream of …

Writing for Free: Is it worthwhile?

Writing for free isn't what it's all cracked up to be in the electronic book universe.  I think this is something that works really well in the physical print world and people just assume the same concept applies.

Before anyone accuses me of blowing hot air, I do actually have experience with both fields.  As most of you know, my "real job" is in the field of music.  This includes doing freelance writing for music magazines.  While I now get paid for this freelance work, it took me almost a year and a half of writing for free before I could get to that point.  Why?  Widely distributed magazines want to ensure quality by only using freelance writers with previously published articles.  The best way to break into this vicious circle is to write for free.  Sure, you didn't make any money but you do become published.

So when it comes to things like magazines, free gets you places.  That's because when you finally look for the paid jobs, you are submitting yourse…

Review of "The Reluctant Death," a single story in a collection by Bernard Schaffer

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Summary: WOMEN AND OTHER MONSTERS collects six short-stories about getting even with vampires, secret agents with special powers, ancient astronauts, what they really mean when they talk about a woman scorned, and an African Death God on a Virginia slave plantation.
Review: I have mixed feelings about this story.  Let me start out by saying that it's beautifully written.  The author definitely has some skill when it comes to concise, potent description.  The premise of the story was also quite interesting.  Schaffer sent me only one story to review from his collection.  The Reluctant Death is the African Death God story in the aforementioned summary.
This brings us to the story itself.  I felt confused by the "vibe" it gave off.  It struck me as being stuck between two cultures.  One the one hand, you could tell the author was really trying to go for the slightly twisted thriller/horror genre that is very loudly broadcast in the product description on Amazon.  "Adrenali…

Flashes of Humor, Glimpses of Life

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This is my first flash fiction collection.  Some of the pieces I originally wrote here on Book Brouhaha.  But most of the stories are unique to the collection.  As a theme I was going for little every day occurrences or interactions.  Little tiny things that I find amusing but don't really warrant an entire book discussing them.
I really liked putting together Flashes of Humor, Glimpses of Life.  It was very different from writing a short story.  It was kind of like writing poetry or something.  In order to gather ideas, I had to become hyper-aware of all the little things going on around me rather than just coming up with a single story idea.
My next writing project that I've been working on is actually another flash fiction collection.  The to-be-announced collection is about death.  I think all this artsy stuff is making me morbid.

Short story sales stats for Shana Hammaker

I currently have 8 short works available on Amazon. 7 are short thrillers, and 1 is an essay length memoir. I published the first short thriller in January, and up until July, I have published 1 new short thriller each month. This month, however, I published the memoir in addition to the new short thriller. With 1 exception, each short work is less than 10,000 words. But I don't feel bad leaving the stats in for the 1 longer work, because interestingly, it's been my weakest seller overall. So here we go: January 2011 # of titles for sale: 1, published on January 15. # of total sales: 10 
February 2011 # of titles for sale: 2 # of total sales: 58 March 2011 # of titles for sale: 3 # of total sales: 56 April 2011 # of titles for sale: 4 # of total sales: 29 May 2011 # of titles for sale: 5 # of total sales: 28 June 2011 # of titles for sale: 6 # of total sales: 65

Review of "A Long, Lonely Time" by J.R. Tomlin, a single story in the collection "Twists and Turns"

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Summary: A collection of nine short stories resulting from the "Red Adept Reviews Twists Contest."
“A Long, Lonely Time” by J.R. Tomlin: A woman finds a very special door in her attic.
Review: This was a sweet story about an elderly woman who is given the chance to make a change to her past.  Faced with the inevitable death of her husband, this change will make her present not quite so lonely.
Tomlin's story is best described as heart-warming rather than thrilling.  The emotions portrayed are genuine.  There is no over-the-top attempt to wrench out tears.  By the end you have a bittersweet smile on your lips.
After several action packed stories, "A Long, Lonely Time" is a lovely wind down at the end of this collection.
3.5/5 stars Reviewed by Alain Gomez
Buy this collection on Amazon US.

Betrayal by Alain Gomez

Those fools!
They had no idea what they were getting themselves into.  The young knew nothing.
Well, he would show them.  He didn’t care if they ignored the plan he had presented.
A few hushed steps from behind.
What’s this?  Had one of them come to say they had changed their minds?
The cold metal slipped between his ribs and pushed into his lungs.
If felt like hours had gone by before he finally realized what had happened.
Blood seeped down his back.
He felt out of breath.
It was so much effort to stand.  Maybe dropping to his knees would make things a little better.
Still hard to breathe.
He would lie down on his side.  That would definitely make things better.
Just a little sleep was all he needed to feel better in the morning.

Would I Ever Become a Full-Time Writer?

On Joe Konrath's blog, Newbie's Guide to Publishing, someone mentioned as a comment a story about Kafka that really hit home with me.  Reportedly, Kafka (not really successful until after his death) used to work at a factory for his main source of income.  He would frequently complain to his friends that he never had enough time to write.  So he eventually cut back on his hours to, in theory, have more time to write.  He ended up just wandering around town with all his free time and ended up writing less.  So he went back to full time at the factory.

I'm sorry if I got the finer points of the story wrong but you get the gist.  Point being that in being busy, you find yourself making the time to do the things you enjoy.   As I said, this really hit home for me due to something I've already been mulling about.

I don't think I would want to become a full-time writer.  Ever.  Even if I somehow got lucky and was making more than enough to sustain myself, I don't thi…

Review of "Traditions" by Michael Sullivan, a single story in the collection "Twists and Turns"

Summary:
A collection of nine short stories resulting from the "Red Adept Reviews Twists Contest."


“Traditions” by Michael Sullivan: A young girl embarks on a journey to fight a dragon.


Review:
This whole story is a twist on the "virgin sacrifice" motif.  Usually some innocent girl just ends up being stuck in the epic struggle between an obviously good hero and an obviously soulless monster.  While those are always fun, "Traditions" takes a new spin by featuring the points of view of the virgin and the monster.  This scenario raises some intriguing questions.

This story absorbs you.  The writing style is light and fresh.  It takes you a few paragraphs to figure out what's going on but once it becomes clear, you're hooked in.  Will our virgin sacrifice give way to tradition?

A highly recommended read.  I will definitely be looking out for more of Sullivan's short stories.

4/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this collection on Amazon US.

Review of "Inklings," a collection of short stories by Aparna Warrier

Summary:
Very short stories and other babies born of Ink.

Stories tagged under urban life, oblique humor, romance, satire and even the purpose of life. In this book, you will find urban-style, simple prose, sprinkled with thought-provoking metaphors along the way. Inklings offers a glimpse into the world of intelligent flash fiction, which, while not a popular genre in traditional publishing, is making an impact in online literature.

For an idea of what to expect, an introduction of five of the stories in this anthology follows
1. Intoxicated by Impossibility - The story of one guy who can't fall asleep because of one girl who's not even there. Or is she?
2. Who wrote the Rules? - Existential angst clubbed with rebellion against The System.
3. The revolt of the coconut trees - Inspired by an academic study published in the Journal of Trauma, 1984, titled "Injuries due to falling coconuts".
4. So what? - What happens after the Storm.
5. Cheeky - A story about that chub…

My short story sales information to-date

Ok so here it goes!  I am baring all with regard to sales.  I plan on now regularly updating people on what kind of short story numbers I am selling.  Not as a means of bragging (they're hardly spectacular) but as a means of providing information.  Hopefully, after a few of these, I'll be able to start noticing trends.  But mostly, I want to help other short story authors by sharing my experiences.


For the sake of this experiment, I am only going to document my stories that are under 10,000 words (or the collections they're in).  If you would like to submit your own sales information, please do the same.


To give people an idea, I came to independent electronic publishing entirely new.  I've always liked writing but I never submitted my stuff to magazines or anything.  So unlike some authors, I did not already have a cult following when starting.  

I uploaded my first story to B&N in October of 2010.  I joined Amazon early November 2010.  When I first published, I rele…

Is it financially realistic being a full time short story writer?

As my father says: data is happiness (he's an engineer).

I've seen a lot of questions/speculations thrown around about short story sales.  So I want to start gathering REAL data from short story authors.  I think this is important for both indie short story and novelists alike.  

Personally, I write because I enjoy it.  But I think that people hold back on writing short stories because they fear there's no money in it.  Perhaps that's true, perhaps not.


I will start by posting my own sales data and then periodically updating it.  Please let me know if you are interesting in submitting your own sales info.  Even if you don't sell a lot, your information can only help the short story cause.


I'm hoping that at least my own data will allow me to notice trends.

Review of "Leo's Wife" by Patricia Sierra, a single story in the collection "Twists and Turns"

Summary:
A collection of nine short stories resulting from the "Red Adept Reviews Twists Contest."
“Leo’s Wife” by Patrica Sierra: A bigamist’s wife is confronted after his death.
Review: I very much enjoyed this story.  It was short and charming.  I admit that after I read the summary (see above), I went into it somewhat cynically.  I thought the author had already given away the twist!  Not so.  The ending genuinely made me chuckle.
"Leo's Wife" definitely adds its own special something to the "Twists and Turns" collection.  I would very much be interested in a short story collection entirely written by Sierra.
4/5 stars Reviewed by Alain Gomez
Buy this collection on Amazon US

Review of "42jorie" by John Philpin, a single story in the collection "Twists and Turns"

Summary:
A collection of nine short stories resulting from the "Red Adept Reviews Twists Contest."


“42jorie” by John Philpin: A man meets a special woman online.


Review:
An intriguing tale of a man who's internet flirtations go just a little too far.  On the surface it makes a fun psychological short story.  If you go a little deeper, there a bit of social commentary you can draw out.  The internet is a wonderful tool but definitely has a dark underbelly.  Who are you really talking to online?

"42jorie" has a fun little turn of events at the end.  But as with some of the other stories in the collection, the conclusion goes just a tad too far in explanation department.  Some things are best left to the readers imagination.

3.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this collection on Amazon US

Review of five stories found in short story collection "Rambling" by Edd Voss

Summary:
Thirteen short stories including tales of early American history, of American soldiers and the effects of war, along with stories of nature and the wild ... all memorable stories stemming from the experiences and imagination of a man who lives in the great northwest and travels the USA in an eighteen wheeler.

Edd Voss is a family man who loves horses and photography. A man who writes from the heart.

Table of Contents:

WELCOME HOME
THEIR FIRST HUNT
CHRISTMAS ON THE MESA
JO ANNA
AIRBORNE: ONE MAN’S JOURNEY
APACHE TEARS
THE GHOST OF HI JOLLY
BLIND?
SHADE
STORM
DREAMING OF A WARM PLACE
TYLER’S COURAGE
GOING HOME


Review:
This review covers five of Edd Voss’s works, including three shorter pieces and two slightly longer stories. Several of these works are period pieces, including “Dreaming of a Warm Place” and “Storm,” or are based in part on historical fact, as in “The Ghost of Hi Jolly.” In each case, the author capitalizes well on the enduring reputation of the American West as my…

History of the Short Story

This is a fantastic summary of the history of the short story that I came across:   http://www.karenleefield.com/blog/2011/06/writing-course-history-of-the-short-story/

For those of you who don't know your genre's roots, worth a read-though.  For those that may be confused as to how the short story differs from the genre (yes, there are actual rules of engagement when writing these things), it's a quick way to clear things up.

Review of "The Unbroken Mirror" by C.S. Marks, a single story in the collection "Twists and Turns"

Summary:
A collection of nine short stories resulting from the "Red Adept Reviews Twists Contest."


“The Unbroken Mirror” by C.S. Marks: A prelude to the Alterra series


Review:
By far the longest story in this collection, Marks provides a refreshing change of pace from the other stories.  Thus far we have had slightly futuristic, three contemporary pieces and now we are immersed with fantasy.

Though a prelude to a larger world, this story does a very credible job standing by itself.  It does end up reading like a longer work more than a short story.  "Sprawling" is the best word that comes to mind.  Instead of presenting a neat little package, Marks lays out the framework for what promises to be the battle for Middle Earth part II.

If this were a standalone story serving as an introduction to an author's larger body of work, it's quite well done.  It's well-written, engaging and fun.  Marks does a good job presenting a rich fantasy world without being bogge…

Cut or Concise?

How an author approaches the short story has quite an effect on the end result.  In my mind, you can always tell when a short story was, at one point, longer and then cut down here and there vs. a story that was concise to begin with.  Is one way better than the other?  Not really.  But I do think it's important to be aware of the fact depending on how you want your story to read.

I think the biggest difference between these two types of short stories is the feel.  Do you want it to feel like a mini novel or a flash in a pan?  A concise story begins with a concise concept.  As in, if you're already thinking about fleshing character out or multiple plot lines, it's not a concise concept.

Changing your approach to a story is an interesting thing to experiment with.  Try writing one story with a definite beginning, middle and end.  Then, if need be, cut it down a little so it flows.  Then try just describing one single concept.  Like eating an ice cream cone or something.  I&…

Review of "Fired" by Lynn O'Dell, a single story in the collection "Twists and Turns"

Summary:
A collection of nine short stories resulting from the "Red Adept Reviews Twists Contest."


“Fired” by Lynn O’Dell: Getting fired has its repercussions.


Review:
Though I have so far greatly enjoyed this collection, "Fired" is the first story that has had a nice, genuine "twist" at the end.  The kind of ending that makes you go "Man! I need to reread that last paragraph just to make sure..."

This is a succinct tale of one man dealing with the ramifications of getting fired.  O'Dell throws you into his downward spiraling world with very little preamble but you feel like he's the kind of guy you've known for years.  No weighty descriptions weigh this story down.  The author does a fantastic job letting the scenario do the talking for her.

4/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez