Thursday, February 4, 2010

Short Stories

In addition to finishing a novel under deadline and working on several proposals, including one nonfiction one, I’m now working on an idea for a short story. I’d love to submit an entry to the Mystery Writers of America for an upcoming anthology, as a blind submission which may or may not be chosen for inclusion. I had a blind submission included in an anthology hosted by the Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles Chapter, a few years ago, and that was a lot of fun.

I started my fiction career with short stories. My first short story “Different Drummers” was published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine many years ago, and it won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for best first mystery short story of the year. I’ll never forget when the legendary Ed Hoch called to ask if he could include “Different Drummers” in his annual anthology, The Year’s Best Mystery and Suspense Stories, and how flattered I was. He said, “You don’t know, do you?” That was how I learned I’d won the Fish Award!

These days I don’t write as many short stories as I used to, although I certainly enjoy them. But in some ways, it’s harder to write short stories, since you have to get points across faster then in full length books.

My blog sisters and I have been working on a progressive short story starring our mystery protagonists, and hopefully we’ll be able to post it soon.

For my MWA entry, I know some general stuff about where I want to go with it, but I haven’t come up with enough details to feel comfortable that I’ll be able to submit it in time. The deadline is March 15--and my deadline for my first Pet Rescue mystery is March 1. Plus, I have some interim travel plans.

But I’ve put my subconscious to work on plotting it out. Wish me luck in getting it done in time to submit it! After that, I’ll worry about whether it’s selected. I’m sure there will be a lot of excellent competition. Since it’s a blind selection, where the identities of the submitters are kept secret until the selection is made, I’ve no idea whether my story will be accepted even if I write one!

Do you have any stories or plots you’re puzzling out at the moment? How’s it going?


Betty Hechtman said...

Impressive that you won an award for your first short story. I had a number of short mysteries in Woman's World. They were fun to write and a challenge because of the strict word count.

You certainly have a lot on your plate. Good luck with the story!

Jill said...

I'm stuck on an idea - the who and why are okay. The where is fine. The when is easy. But the how - in a way readers would believe - is puzzling!

Ann Elle Altman said...

I always have stories I'm trying to plot out. I normally write mysteries but my next WIP will take me on a different route, more down the comedy/business novel genre. Is there such a thing. I hope it works out because the story and my characters are trying hard to push themselves out of my head.


Monica Ferris said...

Getting a short story published does not require an agent and is an excellent way to acquire some credentials as a publishable author when looking for that agent. I've sold quite a few in my time but never won an award for one, but less my first one. Congratulations!

Terri Thayer said...

Short stories are not something I do much of. I have one that I wrote several years ago that I never submitted anywhere.

Seems like they might be a good way to keep muscles in tune while working out our books.

Janie Emaus said...

I love short stories. Good luck with yours. I'm sure you'll do a great job.

Camille Minichino said...

What a thrill that must have been, Linda, and to hear from Ed Hoch!

My short story thrill went the other way, when I presented the Edgar for SS to Peter Robinson the year I short story judge.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks, Betty! I know other people who've had short stories in Woman's World, and that is a real challenge.

Jill, I agree. My best short stories are those that have a real punch at the end.

It's always fun to start down a new writing road, Ann. Good luck with it!

Thanks, Monica. Where have your stories appeared?

Linda O. Johnston said...

I find short stories to be a challenge of a different kind, Terri. They're a good diversion while writing a book, but also take time to plot and do it short and right!

Thanks, Janie. I'll see how this one goes!

It's fun being the person to hand over awards, isn't it, Camille? Giving the Best in Show award at a dog show was delightful, and now I can aspire to give away a writing award, too, someday.