Tuesday, July 23, 2019


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author
First I'll get the joke out of the way, yes I write short because I am. Well, maybe not a short as some, but when I go to the market I always have to find someone to reach things from the back of the top shelf.

All joking aside, I love the challenge of writing a short story, and to be truthful, some stories are better told in short form. There were some masters of the short I loved to read. Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Louis L' Amour, and Elmore Leonard. While I may never reach their level, it is something to strive for. Of course, you notice, they are all no longer with us. There are some wonderful authors now who are also an inspiration.

Probably the best thing I've done recently is to judge short stories. I am so in awe of the talent writing today. You learn so many things when judging and it helps to improve your own writing, at least it did mine. (Or so I want to believe).

This leads me to Anthologies. Unless you have a large enough following for a collection of your shorter work, most short stories find their home in anthologies or in the few magazines left that accept the Western genre. I'm thrilled that both options are available to writers today. My four authors learned and perfected their craft in those magazines of yesterday. Now, for many of us, it's the online and anthologies that are our training ground.

The other wonderful advantage of an anthology is you share the pages with other authors. By default, your audience expands. There is nothing wrong with that, especially in the market today.

Personally, I love reading anthologies and short stories. The exposure to new authors is exciting to me. I also enjoy the shorter stories when life is so busy I don't have time for the longer form. I get a great complete story and can finish it in one or two sittings. That is a win-win for me.

Lately, I've been reading the short stories of Peter Dawson, T.T. Flynn and others from that earlier time. Who is your favorite short story writer?

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't do a short piece about the current anthology I have a story in. If you haven't heard of "Hot Western Nights", edited by Cheryl Pierson and published by Praire Rose Publications,  you are about to. There are six stories to this anthology, each different, yet all taking place in the early West.  Below is a short excerpt from my story, 'Duty':

Miranda Foster climbed the hill overlooking the ranch her stepfather left her to run for his heirs. Clouds flew across the sky. Standing on the hilltop, she watched a storm building, its track headed toward the ranch house. She didn't begrudge her duty, but by the time her step-brother Byron was old enough to take over, she'd be an old maid.
No one knew she wasn't the owner. It was her step-father's way of keeping the ranch safe. She remembered their conversation. "I know I'm asking a lot of you, but you'll be taken care of."
Miranda thought back on that conversation as she caught movement near the leading edge of the storm. Watching, she saw five specks detach and draw closer. The wind was pushing her back the way she'd come, trying to guide her to safety.
Miranda would not be moved. "You may threaten, cajole, or do me harm, but I will not be swayed from my duty," Miranda sent back to the wind as she waited for the oncoming riders, shotgun in hand. She never left the ranch house without it since the coming of Tate Browning. She stood, a calm determination not to give in.
"A woman can't hold such a place as this," the old man said as he rode up, almost on top of Miranda.
Miranda stood her ground, looking each of the men in the eye. "I've been charged with keeping this land safe, to never sell for any reason. Tell Tate Browning, it's a duty I shall discharge to the best of my ability."
The man glared back, looking for a way to pierce Miranda's armor. The wind whipped by the men and Miranda. Thunder sounded in the distance.
Miranda stood firm as the wind spent its fury. The old man growled, his anger a living thing, pressing on her as was the wind.

Purchase book from Amazon here

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here


  1. What a great excerpt, Doris...a woman alone, standing up to determined men to take what's hers and the threat of a storm all In just a few strokes of your "pen" you've given the reader a sense of the struggle ahead for this brave woman.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth. That part of the story was originally written as a prompt from music. I could see the storm and her standing on the hill. The men came later. LOL. Doris

  2. I love writing short stories so much. I didn't think I would like it, and was surprised to find out how much I did enjoy it. Loved every one of the stories in this anthology. This was a great excerpt, Doris!

    1. All the stories are so different yet compelling.

      While I enjoy writing novels the challenge of the short story is just so much fun. I hope they are for you also. Doris

  3. I am a huge fan of anthologies. It's like the Whitman's Sampler of stories--every one of them, even with the same theme or genre, a unique story on its own. There's almost always an author in an anthology whose work I have never read, so finding someone new is always a thrill. I also like that I never get bored with short stories and I can read a short story in the middle of a busy day knowing I can get to the ending before I have to go do something else.

    As for writing short stories, I love it. It's fun to test my skills and make every single word count to create a memorable and satisfying story. I don't always succeed, but when I do, I feel such accomplishment.

    The greatest challenge for me in writing a novel length story of 60,000 words or so is to keep the reader engaged. I have read novels by famous authors who got bogged down in the story line and, I confess, I have skipped forward in those places to find the action again.
    Great blog, Doris.

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who enjoys finding new authors. Like you Sarah, I love the challenge of telling the story in few words.

      So many people worry about the 'dreaded' middle of a story, but it doesn't exists in shorts. *Grin*.

      Thank you for the kind words. Doris

  4. Writing short stories is something I have yet to master. I'm slightly in awe of people who can be so succinct. The excerpt was so beautifully vivid and descriptive.

    1. Thank you ma'am. I do think my love of the form and three years of writing standard haiku helps me when I write short.

      You words of praise mean a lot, for that I truly thank you. Doris