I'm a fan of Wikipedia for general research, not quotable text. It's a great place to start, as it usually has a great compilation of information from other sources. Often, when I Google a question, Wikipedia is the first page to pop up. So I tend to begin my search on the most “clicked on” page, and then I dig deeper based on my findings. In the case of my mysteries, especially where the cause of death and ways to die are an essential part of the story, I seek out scientific journals and experts in that specific field. There, that's my disclosure. On to my blog post. :)
Recently, I had a quick question on the popularity of short stories. I agreed with Wikipedia until I read ... "Sometimes, authors who do not have the time or money to write a novella or novel decide to write short stories instead..." — Wikipedia
Umm ... wrong! How on earth does a short story cost less? Most authors spend the same dollar amount on their cover, and it doesn't cost anything to upload it to Amazon. Time ... maybe ... but even that seems silly, as authors who write short stories, usually write many of them. I think authors write short stories because they enjoy writing short stories, especially in between large projects or while waiting for their editor or publisher to finish reading their current project.
"Short stories date back to oral storytelling traditions which originally produced epics such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey circa 7th or 8th century" — Wikipedia, again (I didn't see the need to research further.)
Charles Dickens and Washington Irving — who were famous for novels and biographies — wrote short stories and, of course, Edgar Allan Poe argued that a literary work should be short enough for a reader to finish in one sitting. And yet, when I went looking for advertising, I found it almost impossible to find a website that was willing to promote my short stories ... even if I were willing to pay the same amount as I would to advertise a full novel. I also noticed many publishers refuse to publish short stories, which as far as money goes, I can understand that. They would have to shell out money for a cover for little return.
And now for the craziest thought, considering what Wikipedia said about money. I wrote my short stories, knowing I was going to give them away. Yep. I wrote my first short, The Pit Stop (This Stop Could be Life or Death), as an exercise in “pantsing” versus “plotting” and to have fun with my readers, which a lot of them happened to be authors. I wrote five hundred words a week on my website, and then asked readers where we should go next. When I finished, I informed them I'd publish it and pay tribute to my top contributors.
But then something happened! My lovely readers demanded more — I love it when that happens. Per readers' requests, I wrote The Depot (When Life and Death Cross Tracks). And then, based on those two short stories — again per readers' demands — I wrote a follow-up novel, The Library (Where Life Checks Out).
And with no awesome book advertising, but because of word of mouth from some great readers, The Pit Stop and The Depot hit #1 in Mystery Short Stories and spent plenty of time in the top 100 in the last few years. When I received my rights back from my publisher, I had to re-upload them. Again they the hit #1 and #2 spots! The Pit Stop is still available as a free download, but I decided to combine The Depot with its follow-up novel, The Library, so readers wouldn't happenstance on The Library and miss the set up.
My thoughts on short stories: An average movie is one and a half to two hours long, and yet, it can still convey a full life — from birth to death — of a character. We can solve a ten-year-old murder mystery, or view a first date as it matures into marriage and kids. So why wouldn't I like a quick escape when I'm sitting at the DMV, waiting in the doctor's office, or a hundred other places where we waste hours of our time? The answer is: I do like that. In fact, I love it! I've read many short stories on car trips across the state, flights, and waiting while my car gets serviced.
Side note...have you noticed how many movies are based on short stories?
Short stories are a great way to meet an author without a long-term commitment or a nice release when you need just a little escape before going to bed, since there's no risk of staying up too late to finish the story, as most short stories take less than an hour to read.
Well, that's it. Just my thoughts on why I write and read short stories. And so you know, I would never think to compare myself to the "greats" I mentioned above; they were just my point that short stories can be great and are an art. I have a long way to go, but my short stories do have hundreds of reviews averaging four-plus stars. So if you want to try one on for size, you can download The Pit Stop (This Stop Could be Life or Death) absolutely FREE from your favorite retailer. I hope you enjoy this quick escapes from reality!
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Thank you for reading my musings. Remember, these are just my opinions and shouldn't be taken too seriously. If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section, and I promise you I will answer. If you're curious about what I write, please visit one of my author pages, where you can read all about my novels and short stories. And hey, I'll even give you a couple free full-length novels just for stopping by.
As always, happy reading, friends.
Food in Books... "Please, sir, I want some more." Plus, my coveted recipe for easy Baklava Bites!
I don't know what made me think of this last night while I was making dinner, but I said to my husband, "Remember all our childhood books... Remember how many of them not only mentioned food, but FOOD was a major contributor to the story?" Sometimes it was the character's mission: to find food. And often, a certain food was a character's downfall.
The more I thought about it, the more books I remembered, so I set out on a mission to find the top 100 children's books of all time, and then I tried to remember if those books featured FOOD!
I forgot how many books I actually read as a child! Hopefully, you'll have a few good memories, too!
By now, you're probably trying to think of all the books you loved as a child and remember if the stories centered around food. I'll save you the brain power...
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - Edmund betrays his family for Turkish Delight!
Hansel & Gretel - Man, that was a rough one! The father has to take the kids in the woods and try to get them lost because they don't have enough food, and then the witch, of course, attracts children with a Gingerbread House!
Hunger Games - While I don't feel Hunger Games is a children's book, it's labeled as such, and it's all about food--the lack of it!!!
Winnie the Pooh - Of course, everyone remembers how MUCH Pooh ate and ended up stuck in Rabbit's tree.
Where the Wild Things Are - The story starts when his mother sends him to bed without his supper!
Snow White - The famous red apple.
Three Bears, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Giving Tree, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Secret Garden, and on and on...
I started wondering WHY all these beloved children's books featured food or lack of food as a primary focus, and then it dawned on me. Most of these books were written around the Great Depression. I remember all the stories my grandmother would tell me how if they got a piece of candy, they would try to divide it into six pieces.
I certainly never starved as a child, but we didn't have much food in the house. A ginormous box of Corn Flakes, a huge jar of generic peanut butter, and bread from the day-old bread store were our staples. I always loved going to my aunt's house because her pantry was always stocked. Because of going without as a child, food has always been a priority to me. My pantry is always stocked. Without a doubt, I'd go without electricity before a stocked pantry.
And there went my brain again, making me wonder, do I place a focus on food in my books? I do, I realized.
Yep, it seems food isn't just for fuel. It's such a part of my life that I enjoy reading and writing about it! How about you? I welcome your thoughts on this crazy-long post!
What books did you love as a child?
Did you recognize the focus on food?
Which classic children's books did I forget?
Please note: I use super simple instructions for my recipes, as I like to save them in my phone. If you have any questions, feel free to reply to this email, and I'll gladly help.
I re-invented my original recipe that I learned in Tarpon Springs, Florida to make it easy to travel and serve. For parties, simply triple the recipe to make 45. The great thing about Baklava is that it is even better the next day, and it doesn't have to be refrigerated. Also, by making them in the shells instead of the sheets I used to use, they are portion controlled and easier to share!
Also, I use Country Crock plant butter, and I swear it tastes just as yummy as my original recipe! You can certainly use real butter. Wish I still could!!!! :)
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Three generations of secrets… Three murders…
And the dead won't rest until the murderer checks out, too.
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Detective Mark Waters tackles an eerie case that raises questions he never thought he’d ask… Is it possible that a woman murdered 80 years ago is working from beyond the grave?
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When life gives you broken eggs, make quiche!
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