Monday, May 23, 2016

Horn tooting time

     Forgive me for mentioning that several of my short stories have done okay recently, if I do say so myself.  It feels pretty good.  One is called “Mister Sad” about a suicidal man and a Down syndrome child named Bianca.  I wrote that one in admiration of a real-life Bianca I had the good fortune to meet on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, and it took second place in the UK Flash 500 fiction contest.  Another titled “Pocket Dream” about a pair of aged escapees from a system that discards our elderly, was a top twenty finalist in the Doris Betts Literary Competition (out of 185 submitted stories), and a science fiction yarn called “Silent Screams” about an abused android was “highly commended” in a Writers’ Village contest.

     Short stories are great fun because you can experiment widely, trying out new genres, page-testing characters who may star in a novel one day, or just honing writing skills.  Because there is no room in a brief yarn for lengthy exposition, the writing must be concise, characterization must be limited to a sentence or two, and ideally there should not be a single word that doesn’t contribute to the story.  It must be a tightly-woven tapestry with no loose threads.

     I’ve written many over the years, and even earned modest sums when editors bought a few of them.  In fact, my first published piece of work many years ago was a short story in the Clemson University literary journal, “The Chronicle,” when I was a student there.  I moderated a short story writing workshop at the Killer Nashville writers’ conference two years ago and had great fun doing it.  My recent collection “Dagger and other tales” brings together 17 stories from various genres, including an award-winner begun by Stephen King.  Many of these tales were previously published, and each has an introductory paragraph or two explaining how that particular story came to be.  “Dagger” is available on Amazon Kindle.  Or you can buy it easily through my website.

     If you’re a writer or an aspiring writer, I know of no better way to learn the craft than tackling a few short stories.  There’s still a fairly robust market for them, including several prestigious periodical anthologies.  Google will be pleased to help you find potential markets.


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