New Publication: Solitaire

I’ve just released a literary fiction short story, “Solitaire“, on Kindle for 99 cents! Written about twelve years ago, it will be the first of three short stories for Kindle I’ll self-publish through Toxic Pigeon Press this month for the same price. Each story is a different genre, and the other two are re-prints which have been published in anthologies before.

In “Solitaire,” Corey, a young man struggling with self-hate and alcoholism, retreats to the Rocky Mountains to face his fears head-on, leaving behind his closest friends, a not-quite-couple fraught with their own set of issues. A snowstorm takes Corey’s isolation beyond what he bargained for, and self-reliance is no longer optional.

The next two stories, each of which are part of a larger series, will be “Mernan’s Betrayal,” a pseudo-Bronze Age fantasy set in a world called Pasmira (previously published in the Southern Indiana Writers Group anthology Off the Rack); and “She Who Dines on Heavenly Food,” a post-apocalyptic steampunk/cyberpunk crossover set in Chicago (previously published in the Three Fates Press anthology Circuits and Steam). My plan for the coming year is to (a) finish The Death and Times of Seth McCoy and publish it with Per Bastet Publications, and (b) follow up with more short stories from the Tales from Pasmira series and the After the Fall series introduced in Mernan and She Who Dines. Oh, and (c) update the blog more.

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The Pros of Cons

Last weekend, I attended the first annual Imaginarium Louisville – a convention for writers, readers, and cover artists.  This was easily the best-organized, friendliest, and best-programmed convention I’ve attended in the last 5 years or more.  And it wasn’t just the folks running the event who made it awesome.  I met some intensely creative, fun, and interesting people last weekend that I look forward to seeing at next year’s Imaginarium (if not at another event in the meantime!)  One of the things I’ve always appreciated about being around other writers is that 99% of all writers I’ve met are generous with advice, interested in everything, and respectful of others’ styles and ideas.

The only down side is, now I’m so fired up about writing AND I HAVE NO TIME TO DO IT!!!!!  School, much as I enjoy it, and work (lucky as I am to have two part-time jobs that I love) and all things related to school and work take up pretty much all of my time…and what little I have left is used on maintaining my sanity and doing things like, you know, sleeping, eating, and taking showers on a daily basis.  However, winter break will be here before I know it…  If I am never NOT insanely busy (and I hate being busy, so this is fairly likely), here are the things I want to work on:

1. The second edition of The Life and Death (but mostly the death) of Erica Flynn, which will be released through Per Bastet Publications as soon as I finish proofreading it and writing the new “director’s cut” scene in the final 1/3 of the book.  This will hopefully happen in early October!

2. The second book of the trilogy (yes, I said trilogy), which is partially underway.

3. A full collection of post-apocalyptic short stories, all set in the same world as “She Who Dines on Heavenly Food,” my cyber/steam punk crossover starring Penelope & Puddingfoot.  And yes, I want to write a second Penelope & Puddingfoot story…I’ve already written the beginning.

4. Another book of speculative fiction short stories (which I haven’t started) based on pieces of Russian history.

Now, all I have to do is graduate…

Catching Up With Fiction

So I’ve made it through another school year, and have over 250 pages of essays and notes to show for it.  As usual when I don’t have time to write fiction, I’ve been missing the process of putting together stories, settings, and characters – but they say a variety of types of writing is good practice.  I know for a fact that my expository writing has improved this semester, and connecting ideas and maintaining pacing  is important in either style.  Now that it’s summer, I’m so excited about the chance to get back to fiction that I can’t decide which project to work on!

Not that my summer is going to be much less busy than the school year…for the next few weeks, I’m doing book events, hopefully getting some editing work, and preparing for my archaeological field school.  Then I head off to Spain for 3 weeks to help excavate a Celtic Iron Age necropolis (stay tuned for updates on that!)  When I get back, I’ll (*fingers crossed!*) have a job waiting – plus more book events and independent research for my senior honors thesis for next year.  Not that I’m complaining, mind you!

Still, it’s high time to make time to write.  I’ve got a sequel for Erica Flynn to work on, a follow-up story to my steampunk/cyberpunk short story for 3 Fates Press’ anthology (Circuits & Steam) and a series of other interconnected post-apocalyptic short stories to go along with it,  and a prequel story to King Kong.  I feel like a kid in a candy store just thinking about all these projects!

The Cussedness of Short Stories

I am not here today to post writing advice.  Today, I am here to post about an aspect of writing that is incredibly difficult for me.  Call it a rant, call it a cry for help…whatever.  So these calls for short stories keep coming to my attention…short stories for anthologies with absolutely awesome themes (I can blame my publisher, 3 Fates Press, for 2 out of the 3 painfully cool themes).  And short stories, for me, are like pulling teeth.  Ask me for a novel any day – I mean, it’ll take a year to write and another year to edit, but I can come up with the material – no problem!  But a short story is a different animal.

“Nonsense,” you say.  “Surely a short story is much easier than a novel!  It’s short.  A novel is long!  It’s simple A novel is complex!  It only needs one conflict and one climax.  A novel needs many!”  Ah.  Yes, all these things are true.  But therein lies the difficulty.  I feel claustrophobic about short stories.  I have to have enough conflict to make a story, but not enough to draw it out.  I have to develop and push the characters – but very succinctly.  I have to make the story world vivid, but I can’t put in anything that isn’t directly relevant to the forward progression of the plot.  Mind you, I can write a haiku poem like it’s nobody’s business – I can be efficient with words!  One of my personal rules for novels is that every scene has to do at least two jobs, or it gets cut.

My hope is that the motivation of having 3 awesome themes to work with, combined with the process of actually writing 3 short stories within a few months, will kick my brain into understanding how it’s done.  In the meantime, those of you who find it easy to churn out short stories should count yourselves lucky – and feel free to offer advice on plotting (and keeping a plot on task)!  Ha!