Category Archives: short story

Meanderings

So by now you guys have figured out I don’t usually have much to say. I did manage to meander around the web the other day and came across some links you might like:

The Top Ten Books People Lie About Reading

14 Ways to Tick off a Writer

Should You Enter a Writing Contest

The top two are funny. As for the third, I include it for anyone wanting to try their hand at some writing competition. I actually have entered a couple of contests before but there was a snafu with the first entry (they never got it) and the second contest had fine print I did not read that said I had to promote my work by emailing or tweeting everyone I knew to garner votes from all my friends (which means I lost as I obviously am lacking when it comes to self promotion). So if you do enter contests, remember to read all the instructions!

I have been finishing up the anthology of short stories and should be publishing it through SmashWords soon. By soon I mean July (depending on what my test readers say and my final edits). It will be a freebie book – my gift to anyone out there who likes short stories and needs some entertainment.

Any questions?

It’s been two months since I posted and I will honestly admit right now that this webpage, while nice, is not high on my priority list. Life is. Even so, I want to know what other writers and readers are willing to share with me, which means I need to share in return. Here are some questions I’ve had recently and the answers I gave (note: some paraphrasing might have occured).

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am currently editing and finishing a collection of short stories of various genres and ratings that will be published later this year.

Q: Are you writing a sequel to Maker?

A: Yes, I have a couple of chapters in place but the anthology is taking precedence.

Q: How do Bethany and Zander celebrate holidays? Like Christmas?

A: They don’t. Holidays did not survive, though the belief in God did.

Q: Do you normally write science fiction?

A: No. I mainly write action and adventure. It might take place in a science fiction setting, or a fantasy setting, or in a western setting, etc. I don’t always get to choose that – the characters do. I do occasionally write suspense, but that’s for short stories, not books.

Q: How long does it take you to write something?

A: The book Maker took about year to write and another year and a half to be reviewed and edited to its final form. Another book I am writing has taken far longer (on its third revision) and has yet to be finished. Some short stories take a year or a couple of days or might not get finished at all. So the answer is, “It depends.”

Q: When you write, do you imagine an actor or a specific person as the character?

A: No, because (usually) the characters are compilations of people I know or have known, or are representations of personalities I have observed. Even Mrs. Twitterwitt, though mostly based on an elderly woman I knew who toured the United States with her husband on the back of motorcycles, was not entirely like that woman in every aspect.

Q: Do you live in a house like Bethany’s? Are you like her?

A: Yes, I live in a Quonset hut, and her driveway is incredibly like mine. I have also used many shop and power tools to construct things, but Bethany is not based on me – she’s physically more like a woman I know and admire, and her personality is a compilation of a few people I have known.

Q: Do you have a Facebook page or Twitter (or other social media)?

A: No. Well, I have a livejournal account under another name (old school, I know), but this page is pretty much where to go if you want to know more about my work or chat with me about stuff.

And that’s about all the questions I can think of off the top of my head that others have asked. If you have a question for me, send it and I will do my best to give you an answer.

The Long and the Short

You read a short story and think, “Man! I wish there was more to this!” You see a movie and say, “I wonder what happens next?”

What drives your brain to want more? I don’t know exactly.

I do know that, for me, writing stories is a fickled task, or characters are fickled (take your pick). Maker started as a story I thought would  take about 5,000 words to tell. What made it longer (over 70,000)? The characters, the world they were in, and their situation. If I can get a handle on all three, a story will keep coming until I purposely break it off at a reasonable point in time.

In a way, it’s like scripting, shooting and editing a movie, for a movie is constrained with a time limit. There is only so much time an audience can invest in sitting through one. Depending on the visionary who got a hold of the initial story idea and wrote it as a script, we might end up with a movie that drags and we wish we hadn’t bought a ticket. If, though, it attracts an audience in, compels them to invest in the characters, and escape into their world, the impulse is there to clamor for more. (Movie studios live for this – as it leads to sequels.)

Should a writer start a story with this in mind? Sequels? Tease you so you want more? Use cliffhangers? I don’t know that either. It’s certainly not something I do on purpose. I broke Maker where it seemed sensible, because the next part of the story will probably be just as long. But I broke it at a point where the reader could envision a happy life for the characters without me writing it, just in case.

So I guess the reason to clamor for more is if you truly feel more needs to be told. Some stories only need a few words to tell their tale. Some need tens of thousands. Each one, whether long or short, has to have a reason to be written, with compelling characters who want to be heard and have something to show you. What you are given might be all the writer was given; you never know.

Can you be satisfied with a short story or a one-book story nowadays? Or do you need a huge amount of sequels? Please let me know. In the meantime, here is a snippit that tells a tale and also leaves a lot to your imagination:

He looks at her with furrowed brows. She smiles lightly. If he had any doubts before, the fact that she’s here now speaks volumes.

Yet she says nothing.

He sighs at his own folly, and it’s her turn to frown. His heart clenches as her legs tense to stand and propel her forward and out of his life. It’s not what he wants, but his brain overrides his heart, and his tongue, stuck in the middle, remains neutral.

She’s graceful, her steps sure. He swallows his heart down, but remains silent, not knowing what to say or do at this point. If she’s made up her mind on a sigh, he’s sunk for good. The only words he knows are harsh ones, learned in the very worst of places – not ones that could argue someone into sharing a life with him. He closes his eyes in dismay.

He’s lost again. Alone.

There’s a click, but it’s not the knob turning. His eyes fly open and he glances up at his doom, only to find she’s locked the door.

She’s on the inside.

With him.

She smiles lightly again, a clever twist to her lips says he may have some explaining to do, but she’ll listen.

And he tells his brain to screw itself as he opens his heart to her.

Happy Halloween!

I normally write normal stories (sort of), but this time of year I haul out my memories of reading such classics as “the Veldt” by Ray Bradbury or “the Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe and pen my own creepy tales for friends. It wasn’t until I started gathering all my short stories together in an anthology that I realized just how many of these chilling stories I have typed up over the years.

But enough about that. Here’s a creepy fact for Halloween: Charles Dickens, who wrote an inspirational Christmas story using ghosts, had a pet that he once featured in a short story. It was this pet that inspired Edgar Allen Poe to write his own classic poem which served as his breakout piece and put his name securely on the legendary creepy writers list (if such a list existed).