Monday, August 29, 2022

Open Book Blog Hop: Writing Short Stories


Welcome to Monday! I'm trying something new this week: the Open Book Blog Hop. I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. This week, we're talking about short stories: 

Do you ever write short stories? What do you see as the biggest difference in the writing process between a short story and a full-length book?

Though my primary work is novels, The Menopausal Superhero series and some other as-yet-unfinished and unpublished works, I also LOVE writing short stories. 

Novels are not small endeavors. I'm a writer with a day job, stuffing my writing life into a couple of hours a day most of the time, so drafting a novel is the work of a year or more for me. Writing a series of novels means living in the same imaginary universe for multiple years. I've been writing my Menopausal Superheroes since 2014. 

Even though writing is always a labor of love for me, staying on track and meeting publishing deadlines for my novels can start to feel more like work than play. 

When I need a break from the current novel, I cheat on her with short stories. 

Short stories give me an opportunity to try on something new without the same level of commitment that a novel requires. I can explore new characters, new worlds, new situations. I can play around in new genre sandboxes. I can finish a draft of a short story quickly, sometimes in only one or two writing sessions. That feeling of finishing things is addictive. 

For me, short fiction is all about play. They are key for keeping me connected to the joy of a writing life, even when it feels like my novel is trying to kill me. It's my chance to say, "I've never tried that! Let's go!" 

Interestingly, a lot of my short fiction comes out dark. 

It's quite a contrast, because my novel series is light, dramedy in tone, intermixing comedic elements with action, with a heavy focus on women's friendship. 

I think it's because I'm usually writing short fiction when I'm feeling frustrated with longer fiction, so I walk into it in a darker mood. Plus, honestly, I just have a taste for the creepy. 

My first loves as a child were Grimm's fairy tales and Tanakh, as recounted for me by my mother and grandmothers, who didn't pull any punches about the scary bits. No Disney-fication for little Samantha. I tell people that I might look more like Laura Ingalls Wilder, but inside? It's all Wednesday Addams. 

My most recent publication is a horror story. "How Does Your Garden Grow?" is featured in A Woman Unbecoming, a new charity anthology in support of reproductive rights from Crone Girls Press. 

If you like horror, or are just horrified by the most recent attacks on women's health and rights in the United States, I hope you'll check it out.

And after you do, please check out the posts from my fine colleagues below: 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

IWSG: You Can't Always Get What You Want

Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking. If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG. The awesome co-hosts for the August 3 posting of the IWSG are Tara Tyler, Lisa Buie Collard, Loni Townsend, and Lee Lowery! Be sure to stop by and see what they have to say when you finish here. 

August 3 question - When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?


Trying to give readers what they want is a dangerous game. For one thing, figuring out what that is can be darn tricky. For another thing, take any two readers, and you might get conflicting desires. 

Really, when I'm deciding where a story should go, it's not the readers I look to, but the story. What does the story need? What's the right tone, plot twist, narrator, setting, or ending for this story? 

image source

Sometimes doing that means that even I, as the writer, don't necessarily get what I want. After all, I love my characters and I want them to end up well, but fictional people don't get off that easily--they have to face conflict, danger, challenges, and change. Otherwise, they're just not interesting enough for the page. 

But when you get it right--it's like magic. The stars align, music plays, and you just feel it in the center of your being.  That's what I'm looking for: what the story needs. And once I've found that, it might not be what I thought I wanted, but I'm always glad it's what I got.