Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Short Story

My Take on
Short Stories
by Jacquie Rogers

Normally, the guest for Short Story Saturday tells us all about his favorite. I’m taking a different angle, since I came at short stories from a rather odd route. You see, I despised short stories when I was younger, mostly because of the dreadful reading assignments in junior high and high school, and I didn’t read another one until I actually wrote one in 2006.

Even then, I didn’t appreciate value of shorter fiction, although I quickly gained an understanding of the form — they’re not the same style of writing as novels. Some writers do better in short form, some are better at novels, and only a few are good at both. Now I greatly appreciate the talent of an author who can tell a compelling story in under 10,000 words, complete with characterization, conflict, and a satisfying ending.

With that in mind, I’m going to tell you where to get some terrific short stories. The first is a one-man anthology by Troy D. Smith, The Blackwells: Volume 1 (I haven’t read Volume 2, but it’s available). The Blackwells are brothers from Tennessee who set out for California in 1849. Naturally, they end up going their separate ways, each stumbling into exciting and sometimes scary adventures. Every single one of the stories in Volume 1 is excellent. We start off in true Western style with Max, who’s in the US Cavalry, fighting for his life against Indians, and the last story, The Wendigo, has a good dose of thriller because... well, there’s a wendigo. This volume shows the incredible range of Smith’s talents, much like a five-octave singer who’s just as at home singing opera as rap.


Another writer who is just as entertaining in short form as in novels is Robert J. Randisi. His story in Six-guns and Slay Bells: A Creepy Cowboy Christmas is Sheriff Santa and the Ghost of Two Gun Jim, a true delight to read and definitely a different take on Santa. I enjoyed all the stories in this Christmas anthology.


And about those Christmas anthologies—I love those best of all! And one of the authors in Six-guns, Cheryl Pierson, also has a story in Wishing for a Cowboy called Outlaw’s Kiss. Lemme tell you, that was some kiss! Debut author Kathleen Rice Adams shows her talent with a heartwarming story, Peaches.  This anthology features another author who’s just as accomplished at short and long fiction — Livia J. Washburn, who wrote Charlie’s Pie.  Loved the emotion and it has an exciting shoot-out, too, just in time for Christmas.


Which brings us back to Troy D. Smith, and his two Christmas stories, A Kiowa Christmas Gift in A Wolf Creek Christmas  and O Deadly Night in the anthology of the same name.  The first features Troy’s Wolf Creek character, Charley Blackfeather as he helps keep the peace between the Kiowa and the cavalry. The second features his other Wolf Creek character, Sam Gardner. 

I can’t tell you which character I like best because they’re so different. Gardner is a lawman in the spirit of Wyatt Earp and gains more depth as the series continues — a very complex character. But then so is Charley Blackfeather, a Seminole/black scout who has endured war his entire life, is nearly indestructible, but is also very spiritual.

So there you have it, five anthologies with nary a so-so story in the lot. Christmas is a season when I love to get my fiction fix, but it’s also insanely busy. Sounds like short stories are just the thing!  And you know what?  At this time of year, I'll generally pick up a shorter work instead of a novel.  I'm more surprised at that than anyone.  But don't get me wrong — I've always loved to read novels, and always will.  It's just an added bonus to enjoy these short stories, too.

Hearts of Owyhee series, ♦♣ Sleight of Heart ♠♥
'Twas the Fight Before Christmas (Wolf Creek, Book 9: A Wolf Creek Christmas)
A Gift for Rhoda (Wishing for a Cowboy)

12 comments:

  1. Wow, you made me blush. And no amount of cussin' can do that.

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  2. Jacquie, you do such a great job of presentation. There are some darn good stories in those anthologies. The holiday season is a good time to catch up on reading.
    Jerry

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  3. Jacquie, thanks so much for blogging today! I didn't mind the short stories, except the fact that I wanted to read for pleasure and not testing. LOL There were some that were not "age appropriate"--meaning that a high school student doesn't have the life experiences to understand what is trying to be taught by the story.

    Great post today--I enjoyed it, and I appreciate your mention of Outlaw's Kiss. That story started as a piece of flash fiction and became ...Outlaw's Kiss! LOL

    I am so glad you are writing on the Wolf Creek project and have enjoyed your stories in Hell On the Prairie and your Christmas story, too. And I'm so glad you contributed a story to Wishing for a Cowboy and are planning to have a story in Prairie Rose Publications' Valentine's Day anthology, Hearts and Spurs.

    For someone who didn't read short stories (or write them, until recently!) you sure have hit the ground running and I have enjoyed every one of your stories I've read!
    Cheryl

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  4. Huge fan of story stories, always have beeen
    . As life gets busier and busier they allow me to take the time to step away from the buzz and relax, while still staying within time limits. But like you the novel is for the long winter nights and vacation summer days.All the stories you mention are well worth the time, at least those I have read. Doris

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  5. Troy, all my comments were true. I loved your story in Hell on the Prairie.

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  6. Jerry, your story in A Wolf Creek Christmas truly showed the Christmas spirit of peace. You've developed Quint Croy well and I'm always anxious to read your stories!

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  7. Cheryl, I think part of the problem with those assigned-reading stories is they were all so depressing. I wanted to read stories where the good guy won, and where the heroine was worth the page space. And eventually, I equated short stories with everything that's wrong with life instead of what's right.

    And I'm really pleased to be included in both Wolf Creek and the PRP anthologies. I have fun writing these stories, and right now, I'm working on the story for PRP's Hearts and Spurs. The advantage of contributing to these anthologies is we get to read the galley, so first dibs. ☺

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  8. Doris, I enjoyed the other stories in those anthologies, too, but for the sake of brevity, decided to hit the high spots. I loved Jory Sherman's story in A Wolf Creek Christmas.

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  9. Hi Jacquie, I must confess, the short story units in high school were always my favorites, both as a student and again as an English teacher. I have written four full-length novels (80K) but spent a good portion of the last several years writing novellas, and a few short stories. Maybe it's my ADD but I kinda like the shorts. We'll see how the future leads though LOL.

    Tons of good wishes to you! xox

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  10. Tanya, at this point, I realize my dislike of short stories was only because of the depressing nature of those chosen for our reading assignments. If they'd assigned the types of stories listed in my blog article, I'd have been a short story aficionado right from the get-go.

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