Always Time for a Story: Short Story Month Is May

I’ve stumbled across another commemoration of interest to me. I have no idea who names these “official” dates, but they succeed in focusing some public attention on their distinctive topic. This one is Short Story Month, which, in case you don’t know, is May.

A short story is, by definition, fiction. It drives me crazy to hear wanna-be writers describe a work as “a fiction short story.” Don’t need the term “fiction.” Still, better to talk about short stories than not, even with a superfluous word.

Superfluous words are what short stories don’t have. They enable us to read tales about imaginary people, events, locations minus the length of novels or novellas. Why does this appeal? As we become more inundated with electronic media, videos, selfies, instant photos, self-published discourses, and every form of communication ever dreamed of, some of us feel we’re losing control. Our time is not our own.

But short stories abbreviate their length. While writers hate to be limited by rules or even guidelines, short stories are, indeed, shorter than novels. They still have characters, settings, themes, and conflicts. Some have mystery, romance, puzzles. So they have essentially everything a novel can have but in a manageable amount.

I’ve heard of book clubs whose members are so strapped for time, they’ve turned to only reading short stories. The best writers in the world have created short stories. They’re handy to read when you’re traveling and are squeezing in some recreation on a trip. It’s easy to be introduced to a new writer in a short story. Their succinctness has an appeal all its own. Another favorable point: publishers and publications are starting to post free online short stories to encourage readers to sample their wares.

The day when a writer could actually make a living writing short stories is long gone. The market, however, is still strong, if you don’t mind creating for extremely low pay or, even more likely, none. Literary journals are the home for most.

If you’re interested in my short stories, I have links on my website to some you can read.

Take some chunks of time this month to sample new short stories or re-visit old ones. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, the list is fascinating and apparently endless.

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Car Troubles and Angels

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I have trouble in cars. The nine wrecks I had in one year as I tooled around Houston qualifies me as a road disaster. Sarah, my haphazard angel (in the book series), causes trouble in vehicles. She has accidents in red high heels too. She often tumbles into someone, knocks them down and falls on top of them.

Not all car disasters have been my fault. Houston has other crazy, inept drivers besides me.

These days, I drive a red car. In fact, my last two cars have been red. If another one is in my future, it will be red too. Why? Not because the color attracts the police, but because others can easily see me. I have no desire to own a gray color. Steely colors blend with the road. If you can’t see me coming, you can’t get out of the way.

However, speeding in a red car does gain a patrolman’s attention. I once was going about 95 on Texas Highway 6, speeding to meet a friend for lunch. I was late, as usual, and even though I’d been there many times, I didn’t remember how to get to the spot. Like Sarah, the scatterbrained, dyslexic angel I write about, I have no sense of direction, and it makes no difference if I’ve been to a location before.

The nice patrolman pulled me over. After the identities, he asked why I was in a hurry.

“Well, officer, it’s like this, I always drive fast when I don’t know where I’m going. I have to hurry up because I’m so lost. Going faster means I have a better chance of finding my destination before time runs out.”

He scratched his head and smiled. “What are you trying to find?”

After I told him, he said the place was up the road and if I traveled the speed limit, I’d get there in ten minutes. He was super nice. I drove slowly away with a warning instead of a ticket.

Sometimes, I’m totally innocent. Like the day I went to court.I was called for jury duty and left early enough to wander about Houston’s freeways. The bizarre experience that followed was my red car’s fault, not mine.I arrived at the court annex, parked, gathered my purse and grasped the door handle to get out. Oops! No way!The lever was broken. I was trapped!

I decided to crawl over the console to exit on the passenger side. Oh, my goodness! People were walking around and would see me.Should I go feet first? Bottom first? Those small car spaces aren’t made for tall people. I finally made it out. Plenty of people inside the courthouse were on their way to jail. I didn’t tell them how I escaped confinement. It’s my secret.

In my humorous, Sarah books, some of the episodes are based on my life experiences. Sarah is a dyslexic angel who comes to earth to help humans find romance. In Sarah: Laney’s Angel, Sarah, masquerading as a bride, is dressed in a wedding dress and veil. She doesn’t know how to drive, but she’s in a car. She accidentally thrusts the thing into reverse and totals the hero’s car as he sits behind her in his expensive sports vehicle. She tells him she was on the way to her wedding. Being the kind, Texas guy that he is, he offers to take her to the church. As they ride along, he discovers Sarah doesn’t know where the church is. Oh my. I enjoyed writing that scene. Stuff happens in Sarah’s adventures. Count on it.

A new Sarah book comes out in July 2018.  Sarah must help a young woman lose weight and gain confidence. She also must find a mate for the lady. Just wait till you read her adventures in the gym.

All the Sarah books are set in Texas.My Sarah Series has ten books, but two books have three stories in them. Novellas were combined into a print selection. In Sarah and Three Times a Charm, or Sarah and a Family Affair, you receive several stories.

I’ve written two serious books. The latest is Mattie’s Choice. It’s historical, Christian, women’s fiction, loosely based on family experiences, and helps the reader consider attitudes and social mores. My mother-in-law was married to a demanding man who refused to let her see her family. Research shows that controlling men do this, even today. In 1925, women had few choices, but more are available today. Women can choose not to live in an abusive household. There’s humor in the book, but there’s also a lot about faith, or the lack of it.Clue into Kindness is a contemporary novella with a similar theme.

Want to know more about my books? Here you go. http://amzn.to/2hwc6nB and http://gaynlewis.blogspot.com/

 

(Guest blogger Gay N. Lewis, a Texas minister’s wife, writes about angels and romance. She and her husband primarily have served churches in Texas. Before becoming a full time author, her livelihood embraced interior design, photography, and communication.)

 

 

 

 

 

A Second Independence Day

 

    The last Saturday in April has been declared Independent Bookstore Day, I assume by the American Booksellers Association, although I can’t find anything to confirm that. Regardless, April 28, 2018, is the day to give a cheer for independent bookstores, those locations owned and operated by humans rather than huge corporations. (Another caveat—sponsors are giants like Harper Collins, Penguin Random House, and Ingram, which, granted, aren’t bookstores but are big guys as opposed to little guys bookstores.)

I have some favorites here in Denver. The one that springs to mind is West Side Books, owned by a friend of mine, with an eclectic mixture of used, new and collectibles. Owner Lois Harvey and her friendly staff help you find nearly any book you desire plus some you never thought of but decide spur-of-the-moment you can’t live without. Lois, indeed, does all the activities mentioned in the p.r. materials about the commemoration. She sponsors readings, art shows, special events, exhibits. You can drop by for five minutes or linger five hours.

West Side is just one of hundreds of indie bookstores across the country. Independent Bookstore Day is a one-day national party. Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent.

In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism.  They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand. In fact, there are more of them this year than there were last year. And they are at your service.

 

 

How Marketing a Book Is More Labor-Intensive than Having a Baby

NeverRetreatCover200x300Lots of guest appearances on blogs and review sites. with the publication of my new book. I appreciate the opportunity to connect and would love to read comments. Sample some:

* Marie Lavender: what romance means. https://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/…/new-release-featu…/
* Writing and today’s book world, Author Krinhttps://kristinastanley.com/blog/
* Author Laurence St John, http://laurencestjohn.blogspot.com/ , the Thrill of It All
*Karen Docter with my hamburger soup receipe as well as a shout-out. http://laurencestjohn.blogspot.com/ 
* The New Book Review, nice overview, https://thenewbookreview.blogspot.com/…/bonnie-mccune-blend…

This is building your own little hive of people interested in women’s fiction that takes on serious issues while adding humor and insights.

Terror Proves Thrilling Once Again

AUTHOR LAURENCE ST JOHN

            Science fiction/fantasy author Laurence St John tackles action-adventure in his third novel in the Metatron series. In his new release, Metatron: Dagger or Mortality, he creates a young adult hero who “sustains constant action.” Superhero-in-training Metatron, 15-year-old Tyler struggles to stop the relentless animosity of a demonic figure and his accomplice.

            People today are all-too-familiar with terrorism and fake news. St John uses a similar scenario to place his protagonist in a situation as the suspect of a mass murder. A headline reads “Terror on the East Coast – Two Million Dead!” Fake or real (in the book)? St. John quickly grabs the reader’s attention, then poses the ultimate question: Can superheroes really be killed?

            Tyler believes a Superhero’s responsibility is to make the right decision, then follow it through to the end. But what if the outcome results in his death? He’s been in isolation for eight months so he could focus on completing his superhero training. Not even one day after his completion, Master Pat Tanaka urgently summons Tyler to help him.

            Kelltie, an evil girl, is threatening Tyler’s destiny of being a superhero by framing him for what will be the largest mass killings in American history. She also teams up with Black Shadow, a ruthless demonic figure with his own agenda — to use the Dagger of Mortality and kill Metatron.

            Feeling vulnerable, Tyler gets inspiration one last time from his Master instructor. He faces the Black Shadow, who seeks revenge for an unknown reason, and Tyler must render the most arduous choice of his life. He’ll save himself, save his beloved girlfriend Kendall, or save millions of helpless people and hinder Kelltie’s plan The story is set in New York, Nevada, and Massachusetts, where the action-packed adventure opens your mind’s eye.

            Author Kenna McKinnon said, “Teens and adults alike will identify with Tyler and his all-too-human angst as he executes superhero feats in a way only St. John’s hero can accomplish, with many twists and surprising turns of events in this young adult thriller.”

            St. John hails from just south of Toledo, Ohio. He’s currently working on book four and five in the Metatron Series. During the day, he works for Precision Strip, a company dealing with processing of raw material. During his off-hours he creates his novels.

            Metatron: Dagger of Mortality is published by Ogopogo Book, an Imprint of Imajin Books. For more information visit http://getbook.at/DaggerofMortality or imajinbooks.com. Reach Laurence at www.laurencestjohn.com; http://twitter.com/laurencestjohn; http://www.facebook.com/laurenceastjohn.