Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for July: (7/6) Jennifer J. Chow (7/13) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 1--Ice Cream Shop Mystery), (7/20) Susan Van Kirk, (7/27) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 2--Ice Cream Shop Mystery).

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Celebrating the Short Story

By Julie Tollefson

Earlier this month, Kathleen wrote of her love of shortstories and especially the challenge of writing for themed anthologies. As May is Short Story Month, it seems appropriate to piggyback on her post with my own tribute to the short form.

Fish Nets anthology coverAs a reader, short stories fill a void when I crave a bit of fiction but don’t have the time or attention span to tackle a more hefty work. My son graduated from high school a week ago, and the month leading up to graduation was filled with “lasts”—last band concert, last forensics banquet, last play, and on and on. Add a healthy dose of preparing for college (endless forms to fill out and decisions to make) and life got a bit hectic. Short stories allowed me to escape the madness into bite-sized fictional worlds where satisfaction could be had in half an hour or less.

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine March 2016 coverAs a writer, I have a soft spot for short stories because my first fiction publishing credit came as part of Fish Nets: The Second Guppy Anthology (Wildside Press, 2013) from the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. With that story (“Keeping Up Appearances”), I proved to myself that I could write a complete story from beginning to end. Until that time, I had pieces of stories, a half-finished novel, and a lot of ideas, none of which had come together into a solid, coherent tale. With “Appearances,” though, I edited and revised, edited and revised again, submitted, and eventually saw print.

Lessons? Finish what you start. Have confidence in yourself. Seeing your words in print in a book that other people will read is a blast.

Flash and Bang Anthology coverEach story I’ve published since then—two in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and “Fractured Memories” in Flash and Bang: A Short Mystery Fiction Society Anthology (Untreed Reads, 2015)— reinforced those lessons. Each success gives an extra boost to the self-confidence and an extra kick in the you-know-what to write more, finish more, submit more.

Two more things before I wrap up my ode to the short story. The Short Mystery Fiction Society is celebrating Short Story Month by highlighting members’ stories. Visit the SMFS blog for links to some fine short reads.

Sisters in Crime recently launched a We Love Short Stories campaign to support short story writers and markets. If you’re a member of Sisters in Crime, the organization has some nice benefits to help you support and celebrate the short fiction form. Find out more at the Sisters in Crime website.

Read (or written) any good short stories lately?


Anonymous said...

Thank you! I love short stories. I have found them to be both challenging and gratifying to write. Unlike a novel, it is a format that invites experimentation. Is this the right POV? What about tense? My first first- person POV was in a short story.

Kait said...

Congratulations on your success in short stories. Alfred Hitchcock is a fantastic magazine and a hard market to crack. Fish Nets was great and your story was a wonderful read.

As a reader, short stories are like dark chocolate espresso truffles. I love to read and savor them. Always have a few on my Kindle. As a writer--as Micki said, short stories are a great place to experiment, innovate, and even try out new story ideas.

Happy short story month. And thanks for the tip on SinC.

Jim Jackson said...

I prefer novels both reading and writing, and I have no problem when times are busy reading a novel a chapter or white space at a time. I do dip my toe into short stories as both reader and writer.

Warren Bull said...

If you will excuse a little self promotion, this past week Dark House books released DARK COFFEE, an anthology which has two of my short stories in it and Whortleberry Press accepted another short story for the next installment of their STRANGE MYSTERIES anthology.

KM Rockwood said...

and the short story saga continues...

Warning: additional BSP

Like Warren, I have a story, LAST LAUGH, in the recently released (I think it's BLACK, not DARK) COFFEE, although I only have one, not two.

And I just received word that a story, SITE UNSEEN, has been accepted for the next Guppy anthology.

I'm having a lot of fun with these. But maybe it's time to get to the next novel. I enjoy writing them, too, but in a different way.

Shari Randall said...

Julie, like you I had my first fiction publication with a short story. What a feeling! I've published an additional story in the Chesapeake Crimes anthology series and hope to repeat that some day. Being in an anthology is like a party - you get to meet so many others who like the same thing you do. Fun!
I enjoy writing both long and short fiction. Funny how ideas for short stories keep perking up while I'm working on the novel.
Congratulations to all the WWKs with short stories coming out soon - can't wait to read them.

Gloria Alden said...

Julie, I was in FISH NETS with you as well as the first Guppy anthology FISH TALES, and several other anthologies, too. I have yet to submit a short story to Alfred Hitchcock, but it's on my things to do since I have a lot of short stories written and saved. The one in FISH TALES was my second short story published. My first one won the Love is Murder contest and was published in Crime Spree magazine. I do read the occasional short story, but like Jim, I prefer novels.

Julie Tollefson said...

Micki - The short story is such a great format for experimenting. My most recent published story is first person present tense - definitely a challenge for me. I almost always write in close third past tense.

Julie Tollefson said...

Kait - Thank you! I love your comparison of short stories to dark chocolate espresso truffles. We're traveling a bit this summer, and I've packed my iPad Kindle app in anticipation - and quite a few of my selections are short stories.

Julie Tollefson said...

Warren & KM - congratulations on your new publications! I'm adding them to my list!

Julie Tollefson said...

Jim - I admire your ability to stick with a novel even in small bites. These last few weeks have been such chaos that a novel would have short circuited me for sure. :)

Julie Tollefson said...

Shari - I have met such great people through anthologies - what a treat, right?

Julie Tollefson said...

Gloria - I remember your Fish Nets story. It was one of my favorites in that anthology.