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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Heartbreaks and Half-truths--an Anthology

I love short stories. I love reading them, writing them, and sharing them with other readers.

The first short story I can remember reading was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, by James Thurber. It was originally published in 1939, so it had been around for a while before I happened upon it.  I
Paula Gail Benson and I
both have stories in this anthology.
don’t remember the circumstances. When I was a child, my father restricted our reading to the children’s section of the public library (which did not permit children to take books out from the adult section) and a few other books, like Nancy Drew, that the library considered too “frivolous” to include in their collection.

However I managed to get hold of Walter Mitty, I was entranced. A short read with comparatively few details, yet the character sprang to life before my eyes. I was not familiar with the concept of literary reviews, and thus my take on it was mine alone. I saw a hapless, dreamy character who tried hard to fulfil his responsibilities in an unwelcoming, critical world. He escaped the way I did, by “writing” stories in his mind. And he had a knack for inadvertently embarrassing himself, as he did when he suddenly remembered what he was to purchase and said, “Puppy biscuits!” loudly in a store. People around him snickered. He could do nothing but pretend to not hear them.

When they arise, I like to answer submission calls for short story anthologies. The guidelines present a challenge and an opportunity. Sometimes a story forms complete in my mind, seemingly with little input from me. Sometimes I get the nugget of a story and have to work long and hard to make it happen. And sometimes, alas, no appropriate ideas spring to mind, and unless I have a great deal of time and energy available, I have to abandon the project.

I saw the submission call for Heartbreaks and Half-truths and was intrigued. I don’t usually write romance, but romance is an essential part of life, and I find it impossible to write fiction without including it in my stories.

Since I’ve submitted to her before, I knew I could work with Judy Penz Sheluk, who was planning to publish the anthology with her Superior Shores Press.

A character sprang immediately to mind. A cynical middle-aged man from a wealthy family who has never quite managed to make his own way in the world. Finding himself “financially embarrassed” and deeply in debt to unsympathetic loan sharks, he devices a plan to wed a wealthy but homely and insecure heiress to a commercial fortune, who is barely in her twenties. The outcome is not a happily-ever-after ending.

I’m familiar enough with this process to know that acceptance is by no means guaranteed, but in this case the story was chosen for the anthology. It is currently available for pre-order and will be published on June 18. Link:

And now on to other open submission calls, one for a cozy mystery in a small town, and one for the next ­The Killer Wore Cranberry­ in the fun and wonderful Thanksgiving series by Jay Hartman. For that one, I’m thinking a family gathering where, despite numerous attempts, no one is able to provide a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.


Kait said...

Congratulations, Kathleen. Writing shorts is an art in itself. One you have obviously mastered. Best of luck with your other submissions as well. The Killer Wore Cranberry is a modern classic!

Susan said...

Congratulations, Kathleen. Short stories are a delight to read.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Congrats, Kathleen!

Judy Penz Sheluk said...

I loved Kathleen's story from the moment I read it. Very clever, great twist at the end, and loaded with wit. Thanks for spreading the news about the anthology, too.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Kathleen, I enjoyed this story very much. You develop characters so well in your short stories. A great read!

KM Rockwood said...

Kait, thanks. I love to put a little bit of humor into short stories. That's one of the things
that makes "The Killer Wore Cranberry" series such fun.

Thank you, Susan and Margaret.

Judy, it's a pleasure to work with you.

Paula, I enjoyed your "Living One's Own Truth" in the anthology.

Peggy Rothschild said...

Hi Kathleen - Great post. I'm looking forward to reading your story!

KM Rockwood said...

Thanks, Peggy. I hope you enjoy it!